A special weapons and tactics team better known as the SWAT team is an elite unit who works tactical assignments in national law enforcement departments. SWAT team officers are trained to perform high risk duties that are above the abilities of regular police officers such as hostade rescues, counter-terrorism operations, subduing barricaded suspects, engaging heavily armed criminals. SWAT teams are equipped with specialized weapons and firearms like machine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, riot control agents, stun grenades, and sniper rifles. They wear heavy body armor carry ballostic shields and travel in armored vehicles. The SWAT team was established in 1968.
SWAT officers are selected from volunteers within their law enforcement organization. Depending on the department's policy, officers generally have to serve a minimum tenure within the department before being able to apply for a specialist section such as SWAT. This tenure requirement is based on the fact that SWAT officers are still law enforcement officers and must have a thorough knowledge of department policies and procedures.
SWAT applicants undergo rigorous selection and training. Applicants must pass stringent physical agility, written, oral, and psychological testing to ensure they are not only fit enough but also psychologically suited for tactical operations. Emphasis is placed on physical fitness so an officer will be able to withstand the rigors of tactical operations. After an officer has been selected, the potential member must undertake and pass numerous specialist courses that will make him a fully qualified SWAT operator. Officers are trained in marksmanship for the development of accurate shooting skills. Other training that could be given to potential members includes training in explosives, sniper-training, defensive tactics, first-aid, negotiation, handling K9 units, rappelling and roping techniques and the use of specialized weapons and equipment. They may also be trained specifically in the handling and use of special ammunition such as bean bags, flash bang grenades, tasers, and the use of crowd control methods, and special non-lethal munitions. Of primary importance is close-quarters defensive tactics training, as this will be the primary mission upon becoming a full-time SWAT officer.
The first significant deployment of LAPD's SWAT unit was on December 9, 1969, in a four-hour confrontation with members of the Black Panthers. The Panthers eventually surrendered, with three Panthers and three officers being injured. By 1974, there was a general acceptance of SWAT as a resource for the city and county of Los Angeles.