Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT)
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) is a law enforcement unit that applies military-style tools and specified approaches in particular operations. It is highly applicable in curbing threats that are beyond the capacity of the regular police. The roles of SWAT involve confronting gangs that possess heavy weapons, rescuing hostages and performing anti-terrorism activities (Klatt, 4). In addition, they assist in arrests that are highly risky and conduct entrance to buildings that have heavy weapons. SWAT is usually equipped with special weapons such as ballistic shields, heavy body armor, motion detectors, and entry tools, sophisticated optics for night vision and tools for assessing the location of hostage takers or hostages situated inside enclosed structures (Knight, 8). Moreover, they have special firearms such as assault rifles, submarine guns, sniper rifles, breaching short guns, stun grenades or riots control agents.
The unit was established in 1964 in Philadelphia and was initially known as Special Weapons and Tactics Squad. Other unites were created in Los Angeles in 1967 after which many cities, states and federal agencies established their SWAT teams giving them various names (Klatt, 4). For instance, in Los Angeles it received the name Special Weapon Assault Teams but later reverted to original name (Balko, 4). The unit becomes very useful in controlling labor unions in Delano, California conducted by Cesar Chavez. The incident helped to expand the capacity of SWAT in California and the entire country (Knight, 19). Moreover, in 1974, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) conducted a resistance against East 54th Street at Compton Avenue. The groups held its guerrilla resistance operations in Los Angeles where they had heavy military equipment and barricaded armors. Special Weapon and Tactics engaged the militants for hours where no SWAT officer was killed or wounded while more than six militants’ members were killed in the conflict (Klatt, 5).
The SWAT was able to identify the house that acted as a hiding ground for militants. The gunfights between the SLA and special weapons and tactics members burnt the house down (Balko, 7). During this incident, the group was organized in team consisting six members called elements.
Special weapons and tactics (SWAT) respond following the calls from Incident Commander (IC) during suicide interventions, hostage or barricade episodes and establishes guarantee for services of high risks in all Department agencies (Knight, 29). In case there are reports that the suspect is heavily armed, the Incident Commander must request for SWAT services. In addition, if a suspect is believed to be involved in criminal activities and their actions poses a great threat to the safety and lives of the public or the police (Klatt, 8). Moreover, SWAT can be requested if the suspect is in an open area and is taking advantage of the circumstances and the presence of police officers leads to an adverse effect. Finally, SWAT can be applicable if the suspect is unwilling to submit to arrests.
Since its inception in 1967 in Los Angeles, SWAT has provided quick response that is beyond the ability and training of normally trained and equipped police officer. The Special Weapon and tactics members have ensured safety and rescue of many hostages (Pryor, et al, 3). It has enabled the arrest of numerous violent criminals. Their responses have earned various awards across the nation since it was rewarded with Medal of Valor in their line of duties (Klatt, 11). Across the globe, Los Angeles Police Department SWAT is regarded as the best police tactical unit that deals with law enforcement. The