When It Hits The Fan, Who Will They Send?
Imagine that you are at your bank. As you are waiting in line for something, the guy in front of you draws a gun out, grabs an employee and holds the gun to her head. “Any of you try anything “smart” and the lady dies,” he warns.
Just after the warning, four other men, seemingly from nowhere emerge with guns drawn out and are also ready to shoot. They men want money, and you just became a bargaining tool.
Sounds like something out of a movie, right? I mean Hollywood is full of scenarios just like this, but there is one problem: real life is not scripted.
It is times like these that you hope to God that your country’s emergency response system is sound and the police did their homework thoroughly. And, since guns are involved, we are likely hoping that they have done a significant amount of firearm safety training. You may be in luck though! City and States routinely employ special officers who are trained to handle these high risk situations: SWAT. If you didn’t already know it, SWAT is acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics. Here in Hawaii, we have the Special Services Division (SSD), who acts as our local S.W.A.T., just with a different name.
SWAT handles hostage situations, surveillance operations, barricaded suspects, high-risk warrants, and other similar emergencies. They are trained to think in situations where others faint; they spring into action while others freeze. Additionally, they regularly have more training in handgun safety and tactics than most other officers. If you are curious about SWAT teams and want to know more, read on. Here are five things you must know about SWAT teams.
- The first ever SWAT team was officially formed in 1967 by Los Angeles Police Department in response to the Watts Riots. During this rebellion, rifle fire was directed at civilians and police. So a special team was formed to handle the situation and it proved successful. Since then every major police department has a SWAT team that can immediately respond to emergencies and prevent damage.
- SWAT was earlier called Special Weapons Attack Team. Since it sounded actually like a bunch of villains, they changed it to Special Weapons and Tactics.
- Snipers on SWAT teams are trained and tested regularly. One department’s test is shooting using a rifle with a cold bore to hit a target the size of a dime. A cold bore shot means you get only one chance to hit the target. No practice shots allowed. Missing even once can land an officer on probation.
- Qualification to become a SWAT member: Most departments require a minimum of two years (if not more). Physical and mental fitness is a necessity. Should be excellent marksmen, we are talking about being at the pinnacle of your gun training classes.
- Famous rescue operations by SWAT teams you should know: Encounter with the Black Panthers, Dec 9,1969; Encounter with the elements of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) on May 17, 1974; The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado on April 20, 1999.
We should hat tip to the majority of these officers, as they do not lead an easy life. And, many of them ask for nothing in return. For them, risking their lives to protect the innocent in a bad situation, like the bank robbery, is just part of the job.