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SWAT Team Secret #69


Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Team

The mission of the Burbank Police Department’s SWAT Team is to preserve life and property during critical incidents and high-risk operations.

The SWAT Team was called upon to respond to a service of a high risk search warrant, a service of an arrest warrant, incidents involving barricaded suspects, hostage rescue, or active shooters; incidents where crowd control was needed beyond the capacity of the patrol division; and other situations requiring resources beyond the capacity of the patrol division.

SWAT Teams are comprised of highly trained individuals. They are brought into play when the situation warrants the most lethal and covert action. Their actions are focused to save life and eliminate a threat as quickly as possible. SWAT Teams train to perform at a level of performance and precision that ensures the safety of all involved.

SWAT team members must be qualified, be assigned to SWAT, and be prepared for any assignment. If the situation calls for it, a Crisis Negotiation Team is available to assist SWAT in crisis situations.

SWAT teams are made up of officers from various law enforcement agencies. They’re selected for their physical fitness, firearms skills, communications skills, decision making abilities, and job performance.


As a SWAT Officer, you will go through two weeks of intense instruction in tactics, weapons training, search tactics and physical conditioning.

Members of SWAT are required to train together twice a month for two hours at a time. They also attend other special training as needed. SWAT maintains a wide variety of equipment to allow them to do their job safely. 

In the event of a hostage situation, SWAT will enter an area using armored vehicles and remotely-operated camera devices to survey the area without exposing the team to gunfire. Members of the team are equipped with rifles, shotguns, gas masks, and ballistic helmets and vests.

The SWAT team also employs a variety of less-lethal devices and chemical agents to reduce the need to use lethal force during encounters. Members of the SWAT team are expected to be available “on call” at short notice, dedicate a significant amount of personal time to training, and strive for continuous improvement in the performance of their mission – saving lives.

SWAT Team Organization

Many SWAT teams are equipped with highly specialized equipment, including advanced tools used to disarm barricaded suspects and entry vehicles. SWAT teams also rely heavily on intelligence gathered through prior stakeout work, surveillance and investigation, to avoid dangerous situations.

In larger police agencies, such as the LAPD or the NYPD, SWAT personnel will normally be seen in crime suppression roles. They are specialists and more dangerous than regular patrol, and they may carry their distinctive gear and weapons, but they would not be patrolling in the streets in normal uniforms.

Since SWAT teams must be ready to respond to the most dangerous calls, it is common practice for them to keep their weapons and SWAT gear in a secure location, like a locked safe.

County Sheriffs use this organizational structure because of the different sizes of counties, and the predominance of back-roads. In places like Los Angeles, where traffic may be heavy, the LAPD uses cruisers like this to respond with their officers so they do not have to return to a police station to armor up.

However, heavy duty equipment may be needed depending on the situation that arises. By illustration, the LAPD’s website shows that in 2003, their SWAT units were activated 255 times for 133 SWAT calls and 122 times to serve high-risk warrants.

The NYPD Emergency Service Unit is one of the few police units that operate autonomously 24 hours a day. They provide a wide range of services, including search and rescue, and vehicle extrication, typically handled by fire departments or other agencies.

Some SWAT operators believe that the new technology will make them less important and not necessary as they don’t have to go into combat situations. But the technology provides the tactical advantage of being able to track down the suspect with the use of cell phones, and they don’t want to be without it.

SWAT Team Equipment

SWAT cops are a rare breed who have to wear tactical equipment in combat situations all day, every day. They’re trained to deal with all kinds of situations, from dealing with a violent felon to a hostage situation, they have to know their gear is reliable. We make sure it is, because our gear has to help protect you.

SWAT Team Clothing

The SWAT personnel wear similar utility uniforms to the tactical uniforms worn by the military. Some police departments have diverged from the original standard black or blue uniforms, and SWAT uniforms now include plain military green and camouflage patterns. SWAT units originally were equipped with WWII-surplus steel helmets, or even fiberglass motorcycle helmets. Modern SWAT units commonly use the standard US military helmet.

A fire-retardant mask is used to protect the wearer’s face. They’re usually made of a material that is designed to stop a fire from getting inside the mask (making it safe for the wearer’s face).

SWAT Team Weapons

Most SWAT teams use a variety of weapons including submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles. Tactical aids include flash bangs, stingers, and tear gas grenades. Canine units may also be incorporated within SWAT teams, or may be used on an ad hoc basis. The 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun used to be the mainstay of most SWAT teams, but this has been phased out by many departments in favor of 56 carbines, such as the Colt CAR-15 and the more modern M.

Common shotguns used by SWAT units include the semi-automatic Benelli M1 and, to a lesser extent, the pump-action Remington.

Semi-automatic pistols are the most popular sidearms. Examples may include, but are not limited to: SIG Sauer P228, SIG Sauer P229, M1911A1, SIG Sauer P226, Beretta 92FS, and H&KUSP.

The Colt M16A2 may be used by SWAT marksmen when a longer ranged weapon is needed. The Remington 700P may be used as a sniper rifle. The FN Five-seven may be used by SWAT marksmen for a more potent weapon than the standard-issue 56mm. A shotgun with breaching round, such as a Mossberg 500A1, can be used to break the lock or hinges.

SWAT teams also use a wide range of non-lethal munitions and weapons. Some of these include Tasers, pepper spray canisters, shotguns loaded with bean bag rounds, pepperballs, stingers grenades, flash bang grenades, and tear gas.

Pepperball guns are used by SWAT team members, but they’re not exactly the same as standard paintball markers. They’re basically high-capacity paintball markers. Instead of paintballs, these guns shoot projectiles filled with a pepper mist.

SWAT Team Vehicles

The best vehicles in SWAT are Armored Rescue Vehicles. They’re used to insert, maneuver, or during tactical operations, such as the rescue of civilians, police, firefighters, and/or military personnel pinned down by gunfire.

Helicopters can be used for surveillance and insertion, but to avoid detection by the suspects during insertion in urban environments, SWAT units will use modified buses, vans, trucks, or other seemingly normal vehicles.

During the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, LAPD SWAT commandeered an armored cash-delivery truck, which they used to extract wounded civilians and officers from the raging firefight with the heavily armed bank robbers. SRT units in other states have used a Lenco B.E.A.R., made by Lenco Engineering, which is a very large armored vehicle with a ladder on top to make entry into the second and third floors of buildings.

Police agencies in Los Angeles, California, Orange County, California, and Riverside County, California use both the Bearcat and smaller Lenco BearCat variants. Police departments throughout the United States have used B.E.A.R.s.

SWAT teams in the United States and around the world, including the Los Angeles Police Department, have several armored and non-armored vehicles fitted with the Patriot3 Liberator and MARS (Mobile Assault Ramp System) Elevated Tactics Systems to gain entry to second and third floor buildings, aircrafts, ships, etc.

The Tulsa Police Department’s Special Operations Team, also called the SWAT team, uses a modified Alvis Saracen armored personnel carrier. They’ve added a new night sun to the roof and put a ram to the front of the vehicle.

The Cadillac Gage Ranger was developed by Cadillac Gage Protective Services, a company that produces specialized armoured vehicles for security and law enforcement, military, government, and industrial applications. It is a fully enclosed vehicle equipped with a hydraulic system that provides air pressure and a self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA.

Work Environment

A study of over 9,000 law enforcement officers found that police and detective work can be very physically demanding, stressful, and even dangerous. For this reason, they have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

Employees in a business are typically expected to work around the clock in shifts.


Police officers and detective applicants must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. In some federal agencies, police officer and detective applicants need to hold a bachelor’s degree. Some states require higher educational standards.

Many community colleges and four-year colleges and universities offer programs in law enforcement and criminal justice. Learning a foreign language can be an asset in many federal agencies and geographic regions. Those who work in fish and game management typically need a bachelor’s degree; desirable fields of study include wildlife science, biology, or natural resources.

Most wildlife officers and game wardens do not require a bachelor’s degree. Some federal agencies, however, such as the FBI, may require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

Many people applying for entry-level jobs in law enforcement have already completed some college coursework. Common fields of degree include security and protective service and social science.


Law enforcement candidates go through a training program before they are sworn in as an officer. Training includes class work in legal topics, such as state and local laws, and constitutional law, as well as civil rights, and police ethics.

Recruits are also required to undergo extensive training, which includes subjects such as patrolling, traffic control, firearm use, self defense, first aid, and emergency response. Federal law enforcement officers must also complete extensive training, which is usually provided by their agency’s training academy.

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