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A SWAT (special weapons and tactics)[1][2] team is an elite paramilitary tactical unit in American law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers. Their duties include performing hostage rescues and counter-terrorism operations, serving high risk arrest and search warrants, subduing barricaded suspects, and engaging heavily-armed criminals. A SWAT team is often equipped with specialized firearms including submachine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, riot control agents, stun grenades and sniper rifles. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, advanced night vision optics, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers inside of an enclosed structure.

The first SWAT team was established in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968. Since then, many American and Canadian police departments, especially in major cities and at the federal and state-levels of government, have established their own elite units under various names; these units, regardless of their official name, are referred to collectively as SWAT teams in colloquial usage.



The development of SWAT (Special Weapons Assault Team) in its modern incarnation is usually given as beginning with reference in particular to then-inspector Daryl Gates of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

As far as the LAPD SWAT team's beginning, Gates explained in his autobiography Chief: My Life in the LAPD that he neither developed SWAT tactics nor its distinctive equipment. Gates wrote that he supported the concept, tried to empower his people to develop the concept, and lent them moral support.[3] Gates originally named the platoon "Special Weapons Assault Team", however, due to popular protest this name was turned down by his boss, then-deputy police chief Ed Davis for sounding too much like a military organization. Wanting to keep the acronym "SWAT", Gates changed its expansion ("explanation") to "special weapons and tactics".

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