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What's Wrong with SWAT?

NCJ Number
Tactical Response Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2007 Pages: 90-94
Ed Caneva
Date Published
January 2007
5 pages
In discussing what is required to staff an effective SWAT team, this article discusses standards, training, tactics, and leadership.
Standards should be set for the selection of SWAT team members. They should pertain to physical and mental fitness, intelligence, patience, decisionmaking, adaptability, discipline, courage, and competency with the tools of the trade. Not every SWAT team has the same responsibilities or workload. This means that standards for personnel selection should pertain to the conditions under which the team functions. It may be necessary to hire experts to conduct job analysis that identifies tasks, work conditions, and the characteristics of individuals qualified to do the work. The training of SWAT team members should be structured, monitored, and documented so as to ensure that every team member has received the training needed to perform his/her job assignments. Training should not only involve the competent use of SWAT weapons and tools but also include training in communication skills and use-of-force policy. Training conditions should simulate those under which a SWAT team is most likely to work. Regarding tactics, they must be based in a thorough study of the procedures and techniques that have proven effective in dealing with situations likely to be encountered by the SWAT team. This should include contacting other SWAT teams with experience in order to learn from their failures and successes. The tactics of every operation should be analyzed according to standards of effectiveness and be revised or improved as needed. Regarding leadership, the ideal SWAT commander is someone who has come up through the ranks within a SWAT team. This gives him/her the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to guide others. Leadership also requires excellent communication skills and the ability to mold a team into a unit that functions efficiently and effectively.