Law enforcement is tasked with a large number of responsibilities. According to one Florida State University paper titled, "What is the Future of SWAT Teams in Law Enforcement?," throughout American history, a police officer has been charged with the burden of being many things to many people. These responsibilities have included being a minister, social worker, and keeper of the peace, in addition to being someone that had the courage to take his weapon in hand and confront an armed criminal. Everyday officers have been charged with these tasks from the 1800s up until the mid-1900s.
The importance of a SWAT team
However, social unrest and the advancement of technologies and weapons have outfitted criminals with more devices to cause harm and create mayhem. As a result, police agencies began to create special teams that could be deployed to high crime areas or respond to specific situations. According to the paper, the Los Angeles Police Department formed the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit in 1966. And America watched as this team took on the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, which was probably the largest shootout in U.S. Law Enforcement history, until the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms tragedy at Waco, Texas, twenty years later. This moment led to the support and creation of SWAT teams across the nation and now, just about all major law enforcement agencies have formed these specialty units or have access to them. They are recognized as a necessary component to law enforcement as public safety has grown into a much more complicated job with the advancement and availability of newer technologies and weapons.
Required tactical training for SWAT teams
A failure in the field can result in a liability, injuries and legal issues. Police Magazine reported that to avoid these issues an agency and department must make sure that adequate training protocols are followed. Too often the discussion is about investing in equipment, when it may be more important to focus on training innovation. For the creation of SWAT teams, the focus should be on training processes and readiness tracking. This both helps leaders make decisions in the field, but also provides teams confidence in the selection and training processes of fellow team members who they are trusting their lives with.
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