The Special Weapons and Tactics units, more commonly known as SWAT, are a specialized team of officers trained to deal with dangerous situations, such as terrorist negotiations, and to suppress urban riots. These situations require SWAT teams to have proper SWAT gear to ensure they are prepared for any scenario.
SWAT teams were first developed in 1967 by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Under the supervision of then-inspector Daryl Gates, new tactics were developed for officers to deal with the emergence of high-risk missions, such as apprehending barricaded suspects, protecting officers and civilians from snipers, neutralizing terrorist and militant group operations, and rescuing captured police officers. Throughout the development of these tactics, SWAT gear was created to assist officers with their objectives.
Certain events prompted the advanced development of SWAT team gear and tactics. One such event was the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) shootout in 1974. During this crisis, police were under-equipped to deal with the heavily armed SLA and were unprotected from snipers and other guerilla warfare in this situation. After this incident, new SWAT gear and tactics were created in order to better deal with these situations.
Today SWAT teams are divided into six 10-man teams, with two squads of five on each team.
Each squad was equipped with specialized SWAT gear, including a high-power anti-sniper rifle (typically a .243 caliber bolt action), two semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns, revolvers, a first-aid kit, gas masks and protective gloves. SWAT gear was far different from standard police gear, which included a six-shot revolver and a shotgun. Today police officers and SWAT teams are more evenly equipped.
LA SWAT gear also includes specialized protective gear. Standard issue equipment includes flame retardant Nomex coveralls or flightsuits, body armor vests, tactical gloves, gas masks, Kevlar helmets, eye goggles, balaclava or protective face mask, combat boots, and ammo pouches along the thigh and load-bearing vest. During high risk situations with high potential for casualty, the right protective gear is essential.
Aside from weapons and protective gear, SWAT teams are equipped with additional SWAT gear for reconnaissance and security. In order to penetrate enemy barricades, teams are equipped with battering rams; explosive charges break down doors and hinges. Other SWAT gear includes flashbangs, tear gas and smoke grenades, pepper spray, and other supplies to quell potential riots and other dangerous situations. In extreme situations, SWAT team gear includes helicopters for rappelling, armored cars, and binoculars and fiber optic cameras for reconnaissance.
SWAT. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2 December 2006. 6 December 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWAT
Felon Busters: On the Job with LAPD SWAT. Popular Mechanics. May 1997. 6 December 2006. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1280896.html?page=4