Special Weapons And Tactics, commonly known as SWAT, is a specialized law enforcement department that handles serious criminal situations that go beyond the capacity of regular police forces. SWAT teams are commonly called upon when incidents pose elevated risks to both the general public and law enforcement personnel. Individuals employed in these police jobs use military-type weapons and other special equipment. They use special police methods during operations, and they commonly confront criminals who are extremely armed and dangerous. The largest law enforcement organization that has SWAT departments is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with a division in each of its 56 offices around the U.S. Most large state police departments and county sheriffs’ departments have SWAT divisions. Many federal organizations, such as the Secret Service, National Parks Service, Border Patrol, and Coast Guard also have SWAT teams.
Types of Operations
SWAT teams are called in for a variety of different criminal activities, including high-risk arrests, counter-terrorist actions, hostage situations, riots, and security at special events. SWAT teams commonly provide security at events involving high-profile government officials to safeguard against snipers and other criminal activity. They resolve serious situations using all attempts possible to reduce the loss of life and damage to property. They also work to resolve situations that endanger citizens, and help with search and arrest warrants.
SWAT Team Equipment
Many SWAT teams are outfitted with various types of specialized equipment, such as assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, stun grenades, and tools to control riots. They have also have heavy body armor, armored vehicles, motion detectors, shields, and night vision tools.
SWAT Officers Duties
The job tasks of SWAT teams revolve around responding to crisis. The specific duties for SWAT officers vary on their expertise and training. Some SWAT officers act as negotiators to try to talk criminals down, and others act as medical professionals in the event of injury. Some are experts in assault weapons and vehicles. All SWAT teams include various tactical officers who organize and conduct activities as needed. When not responding to incidences, SWAT officers complete routine tasks, such as traffic patrol and investigating cases.
Skills of SWAT Officers
SWAT officers must have the ability to face very dangerous and even life-threatening incidences. They must be able to handle individuals who are dangerous, aggressive, threatening, or even mentally ill. SWAT officers must be extremely physically fit, with the ability to run for long distances, lift and carry heavy objects, and handle long periods of various types of weather.
SWAT Team Member Selection and Training
Often times, police officers volunteer for SWAT teams, and members are selected from fellow law enforcement professionals based on their service record, fitness abilities, and specialized police skills. The selected professionals must undergo rigorous and specialized training to gain the ability to use specialized tactics and handle large weapons and other equipment. During training, members spend a great deal of time on physical fitness and firing weapons while moving and from various positions. Many SWAT officers travel to a firearms facility in Arizona for training. Many members receive specialized training in explosives, surveillance, and negotiation.