The mission of our Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) is to provide highly trained personnel for use in incidents where disciplined teamwork, specialized weapons, and tactical skills are needed to resolve high risk law enforcement incidents.
The Team's philosophy is to operate in a way that gives the most protection to involved personnel and provides the greatest degree of safety possible for the public and suspects. Ultimately, the SWAT Team is about saving lives.
De-escalation is a very important tactic for law enforcement, and the use of the SWAT Team provides an excellent opportunity for us to de-escalate. The SWAT Team provides an opportunity to use our most highly trained officers to slow things down, negotiate with suspects, and consider the best tactics for the public, the department, and suspects.
The SWAT Team consists of two tactical teams and a crisis negotiations team, each of which is led by a sergeant. The tactical teams receive 16 hours of training every month, during which they work on tactical skills and firearms proficiency. The negotiations team joins the tactical team on a quarterly basis for scenario-type training.
The SWAT Team is used for the following incidents and events:
- Armed and barricaded subjects
- Hostage situations
- Warrant Service where there is a likelihood of a violent confrontation
- Arrests of armed or dangerous suspects
- Security for visiting dignitaries and politicians
- Riot control
Appointment to the SWAT team involves a rigorous selection process. Before they can apply, officers must have at least 2 years of experience as a police officer. The selection process evaluates each candidate's physical fitness level, firearm's proficiency, and ability to work in a team setting.
SWAT is a collateral assignment, meaning that Team members have regular duty jobs such as patrol or detectives. When SWAT is activated, team members are released from their normal assignment to participate with the SWAT Team.
Being a member of the SWAT team requires a tremendous commitment. Team members are considered “on-call” 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to respond to high risk situations. SWAT team members must also maintain superior physical fitness levels and pass a physical fitness test twice each year.
Want to learn more about VPD's SWAT Team? Contact Commander Ryan Weeks at 805-339-4309 or [email protected]