The Special Operations Section of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is charged with handling situations outside the normal duties of the Department of Safety. The Special Operations Unit consists of four specialized sections: the Aviation section, Tactical/Bomb Squad, K-9 section and Governors Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. The specialized sections are based out of Nashville to allow for rapid deployment throughout the State.
The Aviation unit has four pilots and one mechanic. This unit is responsible for all air support and aviation related responsibilities for the Department of Safety and other agencies. It utilizes five Jet Ranger helicopters and one Huey UH-1H in searches, rescues, location of stolen vehicles and marijuana searches. Pilots are stationed in Fall Branch and Nashville.
The Tactical/Bomb Squad is an eight-person team of highly motivated and specially equipped Troopers whose duties include providing security for dignitaries, rendering safe suspected bombs and destroying unstable explosives. The team also has certified divers that search for stolen vehicles, bodies, weapons and victims of crimes. The team also responds to prison riots, escapees, high risk arrests, hostage situations and other incidents requiring the use of tear gas, high powered and automatic weapons. Several members of the team also handle canines.
The K-9 unit has three canine trainers that train and certify all the Department of Safety's canines. The unit has six patrol dogs, ten explosive detector dogs and one bloodhound tracker dog. The department also has 30 drug detector dogs stationed throughout the State.
The Department of Safety is one of several agencies that make up the Governors Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. They provide helicopters, ground personnel and bomb technicians. Marijuana is eradicated across the State in all ninety five counties. Other agencies on the Task Force are the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee National Guard.