SWAT requirements -While all SWAT officers are expert shooters with in-depth training in close combat, most play a specialized role within the team. Some act as negotiators or paramedics, while others are experts in dealing with assault vehicles or weapons. Each team includes several tactical officers who coordinate and carry out attacks on fortified locations and arrest armed suspects.
Many officers spend most of their time on traditional police activities such as patrols and traffic enforcement. In some areas, they use their specialized tactical knowledge to conduct crime suppression exercises that uncover dangerous criminals.
Most SWAT officers consider serving on the team an honor and a privilege. Members are chosen from among the ranks of experienced police officers based on their superior fitness, marksmanship, and service record. They pride themselves on protecting the public and fellow law enforcement officers in life and death situations that put their years of training and experience to the test.
Minimum SWAT requirements
First things first, before you can get to SWAT, you have to make it a police officer. Most of the SWAT team members, except for a few physicians or other illegal roles, are policemen first. To be considered for a position as a police officer you must, at a minimum:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 19 years old (the minimum age will vary from state to state)
- Holds a valid driver’s license
- Holds a high school diploma or GED (some agencies may require a college or bachelor’s degree)
- You have either previous military service, another history of law enforcement, or work experience for public communication
If you meet the minimum, you’ll go through a thorough background investigation process, and you’ll need to complete police academy training. Once appointed as a police officer, you will usually need to serve for at least two years, possibly for a longer period, before you will be eligible for any specialized units, including SWAT team positions.
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Once you have the required experience, you will be eligible for experience when the job becomes vacant. Be warned: The experiences of a SWAT team are intense and will require everything that you have, both physically and mentally.
Perhaps the biggest challenges for aspiring SWAT team members are the material requirements. SWAT officers must be in the absolute best physical condition to perform the many functions they may be called upon to handle. For this reason, SWAT team physical assessments measure the strength and endurance of potential new members.
Specific material requirements will likely vary between departments, but a good measure of knowing whether or not you are close to where you want to be are the material requirements of the FBI’s Tactical Hostage Rescue Team. FBI HRT candidates should, at a minimum, be able to:
- Make 12 withdrawals
- Complete 60 stomach exercises in 2 minutes
- Perform 50 push-ups
- Run two miles in less than 14:59
- Climb eight stairs in a 50-pound jacket and carry a 35-pound ram, in 60 seconds
- Swim 200 meters in seven minutes
Keep in mind that these are just the minimum material requirements that a team must consider, and this is just one agency. Different agencies may have slightly different requirements, but the fact remains that you will need to get in shape and stay in shape to make it into SWAT.
Most of the focus is placed on the SWAT team exams and selection on fitness, but there are other considerations as well. SWAT members must be expert shooters, able to think quickly on their feet, take and give orders, communicate effectively with others, have a strong sense of teamwork, and be mentally tough. In many cases, the officer’s past work history and performance will be taken into account with the oath when selecting SWAT members.
Join the elite team
SWAT team members are considered the elite of the law enforcement agencies. These units are very close knit teams with each member playing a vital role in furthering the group mission. It takes an enormous amount of dedication, determination, and hard work. If you have a strong sense of team and self-sacrifice and believe that you can muster the mental and physical strength needed to join a SWAT team, then you might just find it the perfect criminology career for you.
To become a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, you must be a police officer and have complete knowledge of police policies and procedures. You must also be in excellent physical condition and demonstrate advanced mastery of firearms. SWAT teams generally respond to high-risk situations and members may work in a specialized position such as a sniper, crisis negotiator, bomber, or tactical emergency medical responder. There are more training requirements to become a SWAT officer.
How to become a member of the SWAT team
1. Be a police officer
The first step to becoming a member of a SWAT team is to join the police force and complete the police academy training. Training usually takes 19 weeks on average. You can expect to complete courses in state and federal law, local ordinances, civil rights, accident investigation, traffic control, firearms, emergency response, self-defense, and patrols.
2. Additional experience
Different police departments have different requirements for SWAT applicants. Generally, you will need to have served in the police force for a minimum of one to three years in order to be considered for a SWAT team (although some police departments may require additional years of experience). During this period, you can prepare to meet the minimum SWAT standards by honing your marksmanship, studying tactical operations, and increasing your fitness.
3. Team application
After you have been introduced to the SWAT team, you will take several exams during the selection process. Must pass a rigorous physical fitness test and psychological assessment, as well as a firearms test to demonstrate proficiency in firearms use and knowledge of weapon mechanics. You may also be interviewed by a review board and undergo a thorough background check.
Once you are selected to participate in the SWAT training process, you will go through multiple stages of SWAT team training, from basic to specialist to advanced. Training areas include crowd control, high-risk arrests, detentions, room clearance, sniping, use of small arms, hostage negotiation and recovery, obstacle courses, command landings, and defensive driving. Most departments require mandatory continuing training as long as you are a member of the SWAT team.