SWAT duties include:
- Hostage rescue.
- Crime suppression.
- Perimeter security against snipers for visiting dignitaries.
- Providing superior assault firepower in certain situations, e.g. barricaded suspects.
- Rescuing officers and citizens captured or endangered by gunfire.
- Countering terrorist operations in cities.
- Resolving high-risk situations with a minimum loss of life, injury, or property damage.
- Resolving situations involving barricaded subjects (specifically covered by a Hostage Barricade Team).
- Stabilizing situations involving high-risk suicidal subjects.
- Providing assistance on drug raids, arrest warrants, and search warrants.
- Providing additional security at special events.
- Stabilizing dangerous situations dealing with violent criminals (such as rapists, serial killers or gangs).
- Armed patrols
A S.W.A.T (Special Weapons And Tactics) team is an eliteSpecial Operations tactical unit in American and some international law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers. Their duties include performing hostage rescues and counter-terrorism operations, serving high risk arrest and search warrants, subduing barricaded suspects, and engaging heavily-armed criminals. A SWAT team is often equipped with specialized firearms including assault rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, carbines, riot control agents, stun grenades, and high-powered rifles for snipers. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, entry tools, armored vehicles, advanced night vision optics, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers inside of an enclosed structure.
The first SWAT team was established in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968. Since then, many American police departments, especially in major cities and at the federal and state-levels of government, have established their own elite units under various names; these units, regardless of their official name, are referred to collectively as SWAT teams in colloquial usage.
SWAT teams use equipment designed for a variety of specialist situations including close quarters combat (CQC) in an urban environment. The particular pieces of equipment vary from unit to unit, but there are some consistent trends in what they wear and use.
While a wide variety of weapons are used by SWAT teams, the most common weapons include submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles.
Tactical aids include K9 Units, flash bang, stinger and tear gas grenades.
Semi-automatic pistols are the most popular sidearms. Examples may include, but are not limited to: M1911 pistol series, Sig Sauer series (especially the Sig P226 and Sig P229) Beretta 92 series, Glock pistols, and H&K USP series.
Common submachine guns used by SWAT teams include the 9 mm and 10 mm Heckler & Koch MP5. The H&K UMP[ has begun to replace the MP5 due to its lower cost and larger caliber, though the UMP has a shorter effective range, and more recoil.
Common shotguns used by SWAT units include the Benelli M1, Benelli M1014, Remington 870[ and 1100, Mossberg 500 and 590.
Common carbines include the ColtCAR-15 & M4 and H&KG36 & HK416. While affording SWAT teams increased penetration and accuracy at longer ranges, the compact size of these weapons is essential as SWAT units frequently operate in CQB environments. The Colt M16A2 can be found used by marksmen or SWAT officers when a longer ranged weapon is needed. The Heckler & Koch G3 series is also common among marksmen or snipers, as well as the M14 rifle and the Remington 700P. Many different variants of bolt action rifles are used by SWAT, including limited use of .50 caliber sniper rifles.
To breach doors quickly, battering rams, shotguns, or explosive charges can be used to break the lock or hinges, or even demolish the door frame itself. SWAT teams also use many less-lethal munitions and weapons. These include Tasers, pepper spray canisters, shotguns loaded with bean bag rounds, PepperBall guns, Stinger grenades, Flash Bang grenades, and tear gas. PepperBall guns are essentially paint ball markers loaded with balls containing Oleoresin Capsicum (“”pepper spray””).
SWAT units may also employ ARVs, (Armored Rescue Vehicle) for insertion, maneuvering, or during tactical operations such as the rescue of civilians/officers pinned down by gunfire. Helicopters may be used to provide aerial reconnaissance or even insertion via rappelling or fast-roping. To avoid detection by suspects during insertion in urban environments, SWAT units may also use modified buses, vans, trucks, or other seemingly normal vehicles.
Units such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team (SRT) used a vehicle called a 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. Numerous other agencies such as the LAPD, LASD and NYPD use both the B.E.A.R. and the smaller BearCat variant.
The Tulsa Police Department’s SOT (Special Operations Team) uses an Alvis Saracen, a British-built armored personnel carrier. The Saracen was modified to accommodate the needs of the SOT. A Night Sun was mounted on top and a ram was mounted to the front. The Saracen has been used from warrant service to emergency response. It has enabled team members to move from one point to another safely.
The police departments of Killeen and Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C. use the Cadillac Gage Ranger, as does the Florida Highway Patrol.
The Beijing SWAT Team of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) uses a specially designed Hummer in addition to other armored vehicles.