Police and SWAT Teams
SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics, and is an extremely important branch of Law Enforcement that is primarily designed for subduing heavily armed criminals and saving the lives of many. SWAT is even considered the most important job in the Law Enforcement branch, and for convincing reasons. Some have the opinion that SWAT teams are intimidating to the public do to their military-styled tactics and operational procedures. However, it is these frightening tactics that save lives and eliminate serious criminal threats.
These days there are extremely violent criminals, heavily armed gangs, large drug cartels, and the public needs capable units for protection. It is SWAT’s job to come in when the situation is considered out of regular police officer abilities. These situations include hostage rescue, high risk search warrants and anti terrorism. Is SWAT really necessary? The answer is an outrageous YES, SWAT is a necessity! Couldn’t police officers take care of the situations that we have SWAT for? The answer is an incredible NO; the regular police force does not have what it takes to fulfill SWAT duties.
With the threat of terrorism on the rise and the new technology this century has brought about, the role of SWAT teams has expanded, and their importance has never been greater. Police officers are not enough when it comes down to the safety of USA citizens, and SWAT teams are needed to take care of the deadly criminals and resolve high risk situations that today may present in the quickest and most effective way possible. Without SWAT, it would be like August 1, 1966 all over again, a tragic incident that showed the need for a special team designed for high risk situations.
SWAT is simply a necessity to keep all American citizens from being victims of dangerous criminals. Without SWAT, our defense against crime would depend primarily on the regular the police force, and as The Texas Clock Tower Shooting showed, that is not enough. On august 1, 1966, a man named Charles Joseph Whitman randomly killed over a dozen people and wounded another 30 or more from the top of the University of Texas clock tower in Austin in under 90 min with his high powered rifle.
The police force was so uncoordinated for a situation like this, that even though they got there within minutes, they were unable to stop the rampage of the “Texas Tower Sniper” for over 90 minutes. It is even said that there was a large amount of luck involved in stopping him when they did. August 1 was the birth date of SWAT because it was on that day that Law Enforcement realized that they needed special plans for these types of situations.
Though the police officers involved were undoubtedly performing to the best of their abilities, they did not have the type of tactical training or special weapons needed to quickly suppress this type of violent crime. This devastating massacre opened the eyes of America, and put a spot light on how truly vulnerable the everyday person really was. No one could feel safe if something didn’t change, for as Charles Whitman showed, even an honor student could create such a tragic scene.
It was then that Chiefs of police decided that they needed to have teams of officers with equipment and training to carry out special plans for these types of incidents. In this day, 2010, our country would be devastated by deadly crime sprees without SWAT teams. If one man could create such havoc in 1966 with a hunting rifle, imagine what would happen in this day and age with the new technology and groups of organized crime such as terrorists. Police officers do not have the training to deal with dangerous hostage situations.
Nor do police officers have the ability to eliminate terrorist threats, or subdue heavily armed criminals. SWAT teams are a necessity for the protection of innocent American citizens. One main reason why police officers are insufficient for carrying out SWAT duties is their training and abilities. SWAT officers are trained specifically to work as a team, usually consisting of four officers, to carry out their duties in the fastest way possible, with the absolute most organization in any given situation, and to do so with the very minimum number of casualties attainable. Team members have to gel and work together as a cohesive unit and this is accomplished by training, training, and more training”(http://ezinearticles. com/? The-Swat-Team&id=646368). Swat Training or Tests include a written exam, fitness test, firearms test, review board, and psychological evaluation. The fitness test consists of maximum bench press rep, maximum leg press rep, most pushups acquired within one minute with perfect form, maximum sit-ups reached within a one minute time period, a timed 1. 5 mile run, 300 yard sprint, and 150 lb dummy exercises are the bare minimum.
Some teams have more difficult fitness training or tests that can even involve swimming. The firearms test consists of target acquisition drills, rapid fire sequences drills, shooting on the move drills, and mechanical knowledge of weapon operation testing. Review board is an exercise or test to see if the individual has the ability to “think on their feet and gain insight into their suitability for assignment. A great amount of information may be gained from a candidate including personality type, the amount of preparation they put into testing, their ability to work as part of a team, and their level of commitment.
Some interviews may also require the candidate make a presentation on a SWAT-related topic” (http://www. specialoperations. com/Domestic/SWAT/swattraining. html). Special Weapons and Tactics teams are on call every hour of every day, even when considered “off duty”. SWAT duties are all of high risk, requiring SWAT officers to be a person that is not flustered easily, and with a very high level of maturity. What’s great about SWAT officers is that they are often also police officers as well. Police officers that fit the criteria are trained to be SWAT officers.
When a situation needing the SWAT profession is presented, then the officers of the Special Weapons and Tactics team are called upon. This means that not only do you have a SWAT team, but you get well trained officers on duty until their SWAT duties call. SWAT duties include, but are not limited to, “Sniper Situations, Barricaded Suspects, Hostage Situations, Dignitary Protection, Civil Disturbance, Search & Arrest Warrants, Armed Suspect, Narcotics Raids, Anti Terrorism” (http://www. hollywoodpolice. org/special_units/swatteam. tm). It is plain to see, that SWAT teams are not around for directing traffic or calming domestic disputes, but only serious and deadly conditions that involve high stress and need to be eliminated as quickly and safely as possible. However, training to be a police officer is much different than training to be a SWAT officer, as is their duties. Policemen aren’t tested nearly as much for physical ability, how well they can “think on their feet” or problem solve fast and efficiently, or even how well they can shoot.
Police officers are trained to perform or take care of situations that most likely include, “conducting patrol duties on foot and by car and bicycle, responding to calls and requests from the public to assist, domestic disputes, fires and public disorder, attending road-related incidents including collision scenes, vehicle check points and traffic offences, delivering death and hospital messages to families, conducting initial investigations, gathering evidence, taking statements, interviewing suspects and victims as well as witnesses, searching individuals or personal property like vehicles, and conducting arrests” (http://www. rospects. ac. uk/p/types_of_job/police_officer_job_description. jsp). If one was to look, one would find that police officers are not qualified for even the very basic SWAT situation. Police training just simply doesn’t prepare officers to carry out SWAT duties proficiently, if even at all. Simply put, police officers are around to keep the peace and prevent serious situations from breaking out. In general, policemen are here to, “protect and serve” (http://ezinearticles. com/? Duties-of-a-Police-Officer&id=1835924).
What if the peace is already gone, and can no longer be kept? What happens when protecting and serving isn’t enough, for the people of America are already in harm’s way? That is the core reason for the existence of SWAT teams all around the United States. When the serious situations find ways around the defense of the police force and present themselves, it is then that SWAT, Law Enforcement’s best defense, is called upon by the people of America for protection. Another reason why SWAT teams are needed, and police officers alone are not enough, is this day and age we live in.
In 1966, just one man was able to raise havoc with just an arsenal of, “three rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a five gallon container of water, some sandwiches, and a can of gasoline”(Captain Robert L. Snow, pp. 1-7). The police force could not stop one man before he randomly killed over a dozen innocent people passing by the University on a beautiful summer day, and wound close to forty victims enjoying the sun. There is no doubt in my mind that if police officers were not enough then, they are not enough now.
It is especially critical that we don’t just depend on the police force now as we did back then do to the new technology. If the events of august 1st 1966 were to reoccur in the present with our new resources and improved arsenal, but no SWAT team, the outcome would be devastating. Imagine the number of casualties if a man went on a rampage today as happened on august 1st, but instead was equipped with assault rifles, sniper rifles, explosives, and even deadly chemical threats like anthrax. For example, a weapon under development called the “Metal Storm” fires an excess of one million rounds per minute.
One burst of over a thousand bullets is fired so quickly that it sounds as if one bullet was shot. It is said that, “A computerized fire control system precisely controls the firing signal to each round in the barrel. As there is no need to mechanically reload the barrel after each round is fired, Metal Storm has complete control over the timing and rate of fire. As a result, the weapon can be used to deliver a single round or dozens of rounds instantaneously at the target. ” (http://www. metalstorm. com/content/view/64/109/).
Aside from that, there are even such things as automatic pistols today such as the “Ingram M11” that can fire 1200 rounds per minute. This new technology allows a frenzy of over one million bullets to be hurled at a target. The fastest firearms of the 1960’s were automatic assault rifles like the AK-47. These automatic assault rifles fired close to six hundred rounds a minute, which doesn’t even come close to competing with the rate of fire of newly discovered weapons. With an unorganized and badly prepared police force, people may keep dying until the criminal runs out of ammunition and materials, and that is not expectable.
With a SWAT team however, America can breathe a bit easier for many reasons. SWAT teams are trained specifically to prevent these certain tragedies, and they too have an adequate arsenal. The basic SWAT team is equipped with, “the Heckler & Koch 9mm MP5 Submachine Gun, the Colt . 45, Glock . 40-. 45, or the Smith & Wesson . 40-. 45, CS gas, flash bangs, tear gas, Tactical vests, and sometimes helmets”(http://fcswat. tripod. com/faq. htm). This equipment is also why SWAT is called upon, as shown in this following situation that could have turned very bad if not for SWAT. “Officers said they heard the sound of ammunition eing chambered in a shotgun (or racked), according to CPD Sgt. Rich Weiner. Officers backed off, set up a perimeter and called in SWAT. SWAT arrived at the complex shortly after 12:30 p. m. Medics already were on the scene. Police blocked off the apartment complex; no one could enter or exit the complex. Residents also were evacuated from their apartments during the standoff. SWAT shot tear gas into the apartment and arrested the suspect without further incident before 3 p. m. ” (http://www2. nbc4i. com/cmh/news/crime/article/cpd_swat_responds_to_apartment_complex/32010/).
I can say with confidence, that had there been SWAT teams available on august 1st, 1966, Charles Whitman would have been stopped at least twice as quick, maybe even prevented. Finally, we must have SWAT teams to deal the increase in terrorist activities. SWAT teams have not been called on for many terrorist activities yet, for there haven’t been many terrorist attacks on United States soil. SWAT training for Terrorist attacks is mostly a plan, but a very important plan. In already having an organized and thought out plan, SWAT will be prepared to protect America if terrorists do attempt anything in the United States of America.
As SWAT Officer Lt. Andrew Esposito says, “The threat of an international terrorist attack against our country is not to be taken lightly by law enforcement professionals” and also states “As professional police officers we are all aware of the threat. The training is out there to provide information and resources on how to deal with terrorism, whether it is domestic or foreign. ”(http://www. infowars. com/swat-officer-says-posse-comitatus-makes-u-s-vulnerable-to-terror/). Thanks to SWAT teams, we have a defense if terrorists’ attacks start to break out in our nation due to the training and existence of a plan.
Before SWAT teams, there wasn’t even a plan, or a single idea of what to do in case of a terrorist attack. Terrorism isn’t taken lightly, especially since 911, which is why courses have been provided. “From October 2008 to October 2009, Security Solutions International (SSI) conducted 12 SWAT Counter Terrorism courses around the country with hosting agencies. The courses have been taught on the East Coast, on the West Coast and in the Midwest, with a total of 48 LE agencies. ”(http://www. thecounterterroristmag. com/pdf/CTMAG. DecJan09. SWAT. Trai ningReview. ores. pdf). That’s the most important thing, a well organized plan, with officers trained and capable of carrying the plan out. In brief, 2010 brings a new threat to the safety of anyone and everyone in the United States of America. The Law Enforcement we currently have is of utmost certainly a necessity to protect Americans from any threats. The twenty-first century brings new technology to the desperate hands of deadly criminals, and gives these Law breakers the opportunity to pose much more of a threat than they ever could in 1966 or anytime before now.
Improved automatic rifles bring unlawful citizens the ability to hurl monumental amounts of bullets into crowds of people in less than half the time. Improved technology in ballistics and scopes allows criminals to post up with high powered sniper rifles and carelessly pluck off innocent victim after victim from a mile away with deadly accuracy. New and easier ways of manufacturing more powerful explosives have made it easier for murderers to demolish whole buildings full of people, a massacre of grate loss in less than 10 seconds.
Toxic chemical threats, an invisible airborne killer, could be released in densely populated areas, killing all exposed to it with no mercy. Organizations bent on burning down America could strike at any opportune moment, and it would take more than police officers to save our friends and family from their ruthless attacks. The list is a sad one, and it could keep going, but it doesn’t need to. Any one of those scenarios is creditable of being able to take lives, and to save those lives is more than just a worthy reason to have SWAT teams in full swing. It is the purpose of SWAT’s existence.