|SWAT and other units in the
|Similar units outside the United States
Everybody has heard about SWAT. Nearly every
police department in the United States has some
variation of a SWAT team. While large police
departments have the staff to maintain full time
SWAT teams, even small departments usually have
officers who are trained and equipped to come
together on short notice to perform high risk
entries or other duties now associated with SWAT
teams. All SWAT teams don't go by the same
name. For instance, when Baltimore formed its first
unit, it was designated QRT for Quick Response
Police Department SWAT teams didn't appear
overnight, and the formation of these units initially
faced a lot of political hurdles simply because of
their appearance and purpose. The threat of
terrorism has revived the criticism referring to the
militarization of police departments using SWAT
teams as the visual verification of that criticism.
These critics simply don't understand the
organization of American police departments, nor
the purposes for those police officers trained in
special weapons and tactics.
When I became a police officer in Baltimore in 1971,
the real SWAT was still in Los Angeles, and the
other SWAT was a television show (1975-1976).
While the television show didn't last, because it was
too violent for its time, the real SWAT fortunately
did go on the road, and it became a hit across the
In the past, even before bullet proof vests and high
ammunition capacity handguns, patrol officers had
the total responsibility for dealing with situations
that are now routinely handled by SWAT teams.
We did have the 12 gauge shotgun, and the sound
of a round being racked into a Remington 12 gauge
pump did have an incredible psychological effect on
a bad guy...but, I digress.
The biggest difference between police and the
military is their view regarding casualties. The
military conducts their operations while trying to
achieve the lowest level of casualties. A police
department conducts it business with a zero
tolerance for casualties. While that zero tolerance
cannot always be achieved, the best way to try is
through training, discipline, and teamwork. The
SWAT team is a good thing, and you'll come to
respect and appreciate its existence.
Special Weapons & Tactics
"Police Department SWAT teams didn't appear
overnight, and the formation of these units
initially faced a lot of political hurdles simply
because of their appearance and purpose."
~ Barry M. Baker
|Copyright © 2019 Barry M. Baker