View Full Version : Are there any SWAT team members on here?
September 13, 2008, 03:57 AM
Like the title says. If so, I have a few questions.
First off, I wanted to start off by saying that working for a Police Department or Sheriffs Office is something ive wanted to do since I was 11 years old (Im 23 now) more specifically for a SWAT team (or equivelant). Dont ask me what it is. Its just what I want to do.
Now for my questions:
1. I know it varies from department to department, or city to city, but in general, what is involved in getting on with a departments SWAT team? (Lets start from the obvious step of "get hired on with your local PD or SO") Lets say youre hired on, out on the streets, and you just finished your 1 year probation, how would one go about getting on with the SWAT team? How does their selection/training, etc work? Do you apply for it? Do you have to be promoted/recommended for it? Is there a certain number of years you have to put in?
2. Does every PD or SO have some form of a SWAT team, or are some (probably smaller towns I'm guessing) Police Departments without such a thing? The reason I ask, is because I live in a fairly small town. Okay, its not that small, its actually pretty spread out, and is supposed to be as big as Phoenix in 20 years. I never knew it, but I just found out a few weeks ago that my local PD has a SWAT team. I never would have guessed that a smaller town would have something like that.
3. How exactly does your every day 40 hour work week go? I know it has to be much more different than the movies and the media make it out to be. Im sure its not really like the movie SWAT. Do you go out on patrol like a regular uniform would, and work the streets until a call comes in where SWAT is needed? Also, on your days off, are you required to be on call 24/7? Basically, how does it work in your department? Just wondering this, because I want to get the facts from someone who actually does this for a living, instead of watching movies and tv shows where SWAT teams are inaccurately portrayed.
4. In your opinion, what does it mean to you to be part of a SWAT team? Is it worth it? Tell me your feelings on the topic. Anything you want to say...
Some of these questions may sound stupid, but I really want an honest answer to them.
September 13, 2008, 08:24 AM
I was not on a swat team but when my PD (Anchorage Police Dept) started theirs I did the Original Rifle training for them. They had a try out of some sort for the members. I was offered the Sniper Slot but I couldn't accept because I would have to give up my slot on the bomb squad witch I wouldnt do. I still continued to train with them along the lines of explosive entries & such
Our swat team (we called the CRT) didnt work partol, but were used for details like steakouts, working hookers, serving warrants, etc. while not on call outs.
It is not quite like you see on TV. They were offen called out just to be on stand by in case something went bad. Most of their calls they would just set up and and remain in postition. Regardless of weather.
Another Reason why I like the bomb squad, on call outs, we would sit and drink coffee until needed. Staying warm. On Dignetary (sp) they would set up as security, We would set with the SS detail and bs. Not near as boring.
They say that combat is 90% bordom and 10% terror, (thats the way it was in Vietnam). SWAT or CRT is 99.9% bordom and .5% terror. Bomb squads have 90% goofing off 10% terror.
Anchorage has between 275 & 300 K people. So some larger cities may be differant.
I retired in 94 so things might have changed a bit. Now I live in a smaller community in Wyoming. Or sheriff's department dosnt have enough people to make a swat team but I dont think they need it. Don't know about small towns in other areas.
Hope that helps some.
September 13, 2008, 03:25 PM
As noted, it is varied; so varied I'm not going to attempt to tackle it across the board. I've worked for a variety of employers with tactical teams of one variety or another. The minimum requirement among them was 3 years on duty demonstrating consistent performance under pressure, the earned respect of everyone from peers to management to trainers, and above average knowledge, skill, and ability across the spectrum of skill sets encountered in the field. And the physical and firearms benchmarks, lets not forget those. Realistically, the guys I know on tactical teams are typically in their mid-30s to mid-40s, with military and law enforcement backgrounds dating back to their high school and/or college graduation. The better outfits are extremely challenging to earn a spot on, it is that competitive.
Most departments and agencies do not have tactical units. Of course, if your definition is broad enough to include a handful of guys with some extra training and equipment, there seem to be lots of units. I adhere to a narrow definition; think FBI HRT, ICE SRT, USMS SOG, NYPD ESU, LAPD SWAT, etc. What do they have in common? They are top tier outfits, funded, trained and equipped far in excess of "the norm," capable of handling far in excess of "the norm." Most "tactical teams" these days seem to be "low risk" units with a couple of grand per member in equipment and hopefully, maybe, a dedicated training program to bring things together. That. Does. Not. A. Tactical. Unit. Make. Don't get me wrong, those guys are in the trenches, those trenches are dangerous, and they should be well prepared for it. They are a different thing, that's all.
Too varied to say. There are full timers and part timers, with the majority being part timers.
I'm not a member of a tactical unit. I train and have trained with a variety of tactical units members, though; federal, state, and local. They are extremely motivated individuals who have worked hard to get and stay where they are, hoping to get all they can from it before they have to hang up their gear as age and the injuries mount up.
Now, all that said... Get hired, put three or so years behind you, volunteer for a "low risk" outfit (warrants, drugs, the stuff you wouldn't need a top tier unit for), and spend a few more years proving yourself there. Remember, no matter how fit you are or well you shoot, if you don't earn the respect of the right folks it won't matter, assuming the outfit you are interested in is worth competing to be on; because competing is what it is and should be to ensure the unit gets the best available.
September 13, 2008, 04:02 PM
Great responses! Answered a lot of questions, cleared some things up, and really put things into perspective for me. If anyone else has anymore input, feel free to add whatever you feel is necessary, and thanks again for the responses
September 13, 2008, 04:05 PM
Oh, and to keep things kinda sorta on topic, practice not just your firearms KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities), but transitioning between them, preferably while wearing gear.
Something along these lines (Pat Roger's stuff - always a good bet when it comes to benchmarks):
September 13, 2008, 04:58 PM
All good advice.
I would highly recommend you ask all those questions before choosing which department you wish to go to work for. Most will be happy to share the path to a SWAT type assignment.
It is an expense to the departments and liability not to have the most experienced, physically fit, stable and predictable personnel assigned to such duties.
You must expect to have 3 - 5 years experience to begin the process, desire plus peer and supervisor recommendations will be part of the process.
Plan on being married to a pager...as it happens when you least expect it.
Some Depts. offer bonus pay for such specialized assignments...many don't.
Some smaller departments have officers from surrounding departments who make up the SWAT type team.
Don't be too vocal or talk too much about SWAT as a newbie...learn the trade then the specialty.....a successful SWAT operation is one where NOBODY gets hurt....Civilians, Cops or bad guys !
Even in big cities where it is a full time job...there can be a burn out factor.
On those teams, when not training you are usually service high risk search or arrest warrants...never a dull day.
Hours and hours of boredom....shattered by seconds of shear terror......manager terror as you are equipped, been trained and are closely supervised and directed.
Good luck in your pursuit !
September 14, 2008, 07:08 AM
I served eight years on my department SWAT team, stepping down last year. As a team leader the last couple of years, I was also responsible for the selection of officers to the team.
One thing you need to understand now is that typically, only the largest of cities have full time teams (cities of say 200,000 or more). The vast majority of deparments have "part time" teams. What this means, is that officers work their regular jobs such as patrol or investigator and then serve on the team as an extra assignment. You train somewhere between 8 to 16 hours a month, depending on departmental budget constraints. You are then on call 24/7 if a hostage/barricade or high risk warrant service comes up. That pager will go off at the most inopportune time. This is exciting for the officer but not particular so for the wife. Being a SWAT officer is about hard work and commitment. It's typically hot or cold in training and on operations. It's repetitive work as it takes many many long hours of practice to hone team movement and shooting skills.
If you want to be a SWAT cop, you need to focus on being a good street cop first. You'll need to garner a reputation as a dependable officer ,one who pulls his weight, never shirks a task, and will be there when things are not fun. This will show you are a team player and selfless, the most important virtue of a SWAT cop in my opinion. At the same time, practice your firearms skills and keep up with procedure so you establish yourself as a good decision maker. If you gain a poor reputation early on, it will follow you for years. Trust me, I've seen it happen.
You don't have to be a body builder but stay in shape. Right now, focus on just becoming a police officer in a jurisdiction that will later provide the opportunity you are looking for. Then, work hard with the patrol officers you are teamed up with. That is the best advice I can give you.
September 14, 2008, 08:16 AM
10 yrs on the team with 3 yrs as a team leader in the late 70s and into the 80s.
what is involved in getting on with a departments SWAT team?
We were selected by the other team members. They looked at your past and current experience and if they thought you could do the job then they contacted you. If you weren't dedicated to your day to day job then you wouldn't be dedicated to being on SWAT. Some people made it know thru the chain of command that they were interested. We would look at them and if they had the work record and experience then we'd contact them. Then there was the PT tests, shooting tests, and tons of training. Anywhere along that way a person could be dropped.
how would one go about getting on with the SWAT team?
There has to be an opening. Not everyone who wants to be on the team is allowed, and that is how it should be. Team selection should be very tough and thorough. There are a lot of cops who are wannabee SWAT types who should never be on the teams.
The team leader approached me. I was just a few months out of the academy and still on probation when I got on the team.
You could be booted off the team for failing to perform. We kicked one of our guys off after we did an ops where we took down an armed subject who was holding 2 hostages. The guy froze in the doorway which placed the entire op and other team members in danger. That was his last op.
Does every PD or SO have some form of a SWAT team,
Not every PD or SO has a team but some of those who do have them shouldn't. It was fashionable for every chief and sheriff to have their own teams. In addition, there were wannabee ninja types on depts who pushed to develop teams. Some of those were dangerous. They didn't have money for training so they self taught themselves even tho the extent of their training regiment involved whatever they read from SWAT magazine and watching Chuck Norris movies with no one really knowing what they were doing or if they were doing it right. What they lacked in training they made up for (or so they thought) by buying all the ninja toys they could afford, usually out of their own pockets. If it was made out of black nylon and had velcro and D-rings these guys would buy it. What made these guys even more dangerous is they worked for some podunk chief who didn't have a clue about cop work and he thought his guys were better than HRT or Delta Force.
exactly does your every day 40 hour work week go?
When I was on the team we were a part time team. We did patrol as our normal day. After our initial training we would have training days 2 days a month. These training days were in addition to our normal range and defensive tactics training which every Troop got. When needed either by my agency or by another agency who didn't have a team we would be called out. We would get a couple of call outs a month just for my area.
Our team now is full time. 3 teams with 20 on a team. Each team has a different area of the state. When they are not doing call outs then they're training. Statewide they'll do between 300-400 ops a year somewhere around the state. In addition to the typical SWAT call outs they are the primary WMD response for the state. They keep busy.
what does it mean to you to be part of a SWAT team? Is it worth it?
It meant working with guys who were hand selected from the entire dept and who were on the team because they were highly motivated and working for a common goal. If a guy didn't fit in then he was gone. Slackers didn't get on the team and if a guy slacked off he was gone. Glory seekers were gone. If a person was on the team to be some hero he was gone. If a person was on the team and worried about overtime, long hours, call out in bad weather, someone else getting something he didn't get then they were gone.
September 14, 2008, 01:16 PM
Wow, those last two responses definately put things even further into perspective for me. It sounds like something I would definately be interested in. Now I know what I need to do from the minute I get out of the academy and on the job. Do everything by the book, show that Im a team player, and can be a leader when I need to be, give 110%, and always put the job before myself. Thanks for all the help guys. I appreciate you taking the time to type out your responses
September 14, 2008, 04:52 PM
Good luck and remember public service is seldom appreciated, frustrating at times but can be very rewarding.
September 15, 2008, 04:40 PM
I work for a "large" (for AL) County SO, and we have a part time team (15-20man).
what is involved in getting on with a departments SWAT team?/ how would one go about getting on with the SWAT team?
Min 2 years with the department, pass the PT test, shoot a 90 with pistol and patrol rifle. Then we have a pretty tough tryout (4-6 hours) with PT/ stress scenarios, call out type scenarios, a team/ group scenario, and finally an interview with the team. Then there is a psych exam and approval by the admin. As mentioned above, glory ho's don't last long, whiners don't last long, and the lazy don't seem to stay around long either. It definitely takes a bunch of committed, dedicated guys, that only want the best for their jurisdiction, team, and each other.
Does every PD or SO have some form of a SWAT team?
Not around here. Out of about 10 agencies in our county, I can only think of 3-4 that have teams. All of the other agencies call us when they need a team, but we are fighting for the construction of a county wide/ multi agency team.
exactly does your every day 40 hour work week go?
Our team is made up of guys from Patrol, Investigations, and the Drug task Force. Team duties are in addition to regular duties, and involve 2 days of training per month, 3 if you're a sniper.
what does it mean to you to be part of a SWAT team? Is it worth it?
It means being with and part of the best group of guys (hopefully) your agency has to offer, and it means dedicating yourself to others when stuff gets really bad. The previous comment about 99.5% boredom and .5% terror is so so true. We've been called out more times just to get there, suit up, and then get cancelled than we have to actually do something, and call outs only happen when you already had something else planned. Is it worth it... ABSOLUTELY!!!
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