History of SWAT
Don AdamsHighly trained teams of law enforcement officers operate under many different names in different regions of the United States. They are specially trained groups of individuals who work high risk missions that fall outside of the scope of standard law enforcement. Collectively, they are known as SWAT teams.The late sixties in Los Angeles were a dangerous time. There was an unfortunate surge in violent and sophisticated crime. Sniper killings and domestic terrorism became more prevalent. Of particular note were the Watts Riot, where a civilian fired at police officers and citizens with a sniper rifle. The LAPD found itself incapable of dealing with the rise in crime using their typical law enforcement means.Daryl Gates of the LAPD facilitated the organization of a team of specially trained police units to counter the rise in crime. He wished to name the team Special Weapons Assault Team. His deputy police chief saw the aggressive naming convention as a possible public relations problem and suggested he change it. Gates, wanting to keep the acronym SWAT, changed the name to Special Weapons and Tactics.SWAT teams continued to grow and train mostly in southern California through the 1970s. These teams operated individually with little standardization of training and tactics. While there was discussion and some cross-training, the teams operated independently.Following a conflict with the Symbionese Liberation Army, the LAPD released a one hundred page report on the development of SWAT. In this report, they described SWAT’s purpose as the following: “The purpose of SWAT is to provide protection, support, security, firepower, and rescue to police operations in high personal risk situations where specialized tactics are necessary to minimize casualties.”In the 1980s, SWAT teams began to perform hostage rescue and other specialized skills which required yet more training. This took SWAT teams to a higher level of professionalism and necessitated some standardization in training. Today, the tactics developed by SWAT teams are being taught to police officers to encounter more sophisticated and violent criminals. The lessons learned in the last 20 years by SWAT teams has been extremely valuable in refining the way we train police officers to handle situations such as the active shooter. More and more departments are reaching out to other law enforcement agencies and private companies to train personnel in Basic SWAT team tactics such as close quarters battle (CQB) training, patrol rifle training, and crisis response.
Don Adams has over 10 years of law enforcement and private security experience. He is a current S.W.A.T. Officer and holds an Advanced Texas Peace Officers license with over 2500 hours of specialized training. As a certified law enforcement firearms instructor, Don is currently involved in training domestic and foreign police officers in
police tactical training.