24 March 2014
Section One: Job Description
SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) are well trained members that take on situations that the police forces cannot handle themselves. SWAT teams are called in when there are a risk to law enforcement officers or the public. “These elite professionals use their advanced training in weapons, teamwork and strategy to resolve situations such as hostage situations, counterterrorism operations, suicide intervention, warrant service under fire, high-risk search and seizure, undercover operations, crowd and riot control, and fugitive tracking in rural environments”(''Become a SWAT Agent: Education Requirements and Career Information.''). Being a member of a SWAT team can be very risky. Officers on SWAT teams are at a higher risk of being injured by gunfire, explosives, or in hand-to-hand combat with suspects. While in most cities, members of SWAT teams do routine police work and only perform SWAT roles in special circumstances, eventually they will be called to perform the very dangerous tasks involved in SWAT activities. SWAT officers run the risk of physical injury, even death, as a result of their work. “SWAT officers also run significant legal risk as a result of their work, and have been named as defendants in wrongful death and other legal actions” (''How Do I Become a SWAT Officer?''). Police departments cover SWAT and other police officers under liability insurance policies to limit their exposure to law suit damages.
Section Two: Working Conditions
“9% percent of police departments do not have full time SWAT teams.”(''Learning From SWAT''). Those departments that have SWAT full time have several teams that take turns being on call. SWAT members will have plenty of time off. “Most departments work a 12 hour schedule, which means you are scheduled to work 15 days out of the month, and you get 15 off” (''SWAT Team Officer''). Plus you get vacation just like any other officer. Large, urban police forces and county sheriffs’ departments often include a dedicated SWAT division. “The FBI maintains SWAT divisions at each of its 56 field offices around the country”(''SWAT Team Officer'').The work of SWAT teams revolves around crisis response. “Officers must therefore be prepared to face dangerous and life-threatening situations and to deal with people who are aggressive, dangerous, mentally ill or threatening the safety of bystanders”( ''How to Become a S.W.A.T Officer.'').
Some research suggests that police officers commit suicide at a higher rate than other groups.“A majority of officers interviewed reported that police work prevent non-police friendships, interferes with scheduling family social events, and generates a negative public image. Furthermore, they take job pressures home, and spouses worry about officers safety”(''Physical Rigors, Mental Fortitude Test SWAT Recruits' True Grit''). Most investigators report unusually high rates of divorce among police. Although some maintain that researchers have stressed the divorce rate among police, interview surveys shows that police stress reduces the quality of family life.
Section Two: Education
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, a person needs only a high school education to become a law enforcement officer, although many agencies require some college education or a college degree”(''Become a SWAT Agent: Education Requirements and Career Information''). Some community colleges offer tactical law enforcement classes and programs. These programs cover areas such as self-defense, firearms training, tactical operations, search and seizure. A few colleges also offer police academy training programs, while some private industry associations offer SWAT training programs.
Only experienced officers may seek assignment to special units, which includes SWAT teams. Hiring requirements vary by organizations. “Generally,