The mission of Ventura's 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.

History of SWAT

The idea of a specialized tactical unit has long been used in the military. As far back as the Revolutionary War, specialized sharpshooters and tactical units were used to handle situations beyond the training and ability of regular field forces.

On August 1, 1966, an incident occurred in Austin, Texas that changed law enforcement's procedures for handling critical incidents. In what is now known as the "Texas Tower Incident," Charles Whitman, a former Marine sharpshooter, climbed to the top of the Administration tower at the University of Texas. In the ninety-six minute rampage that followed, Whitman killed fifteen people and wounded thirty-one others. Two Austin police officers worked their way up to his position and eventually shot him.

As law enforcement administrators throughout the country studied this incident, they thought about their own ability to handle similar incidents. Most agreed that their departments were ill equipped to resolve these types of problems.

The concept of a Special Weapons and Tactics Team was first implemented by the Los Angeles Police Department. Since then, law enforcement agencies across the country have adopted the concept. No matter which acronym is used (SWAT, SRT, ERT) these teams of highly trained professionals are used to resolve the most hazardous law enforcement incidents.

Ventura's SWAT Team is responsible for handling high-risk law enforcement situations involving:

  • barricaded suspects
  • hostage situations
  • warrant service where there is a chance of a violent confrontation
  • arrest of armed or dangerous suspects
  • security for visiting dignitaries and politicians

Appointment to the SWAT team involves a rigorous selection process. Before they can apply, officers must have at least 2 years 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 co-lateral assignment. Team members have regular duty jobs such as patrol and detectives. When SWAT is activated, team members are released from their normal assignment until the SWAT operation is concluded.

Being a member of the SWAT team requires a tremendous commitment. The SWAT team trains in tactics and firearms each month. SWAT team members must also maintain superior physical fitness levels and pass a physical fitness test twice each year.


Commander Ryan Weeks -- 805-339-4309