The Gainesville Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics Team is an elite team of officers that are specially trained to handle threatening situations that fall outside the capabilities of patrol officers. The SWAT team is primarily used to serve high-risk search and arrest warrants for the Special Investigations Unit. SWAT is also used for other unusual occurrences, including barricaded subjects, sniper situations, dignitary protection and other special assignments. Each SWAT team member is fully equipped and able to respond directly to the scene of an incident for immediate deployment. SWAT also works closely with the Department’s Negotiations Response Team (NRT) in order to assist the Incident Commander at a particular situation in working toward a successful negotiated resolution.
The SWAT team is made up of 20-25 officers, including four snipers, five tactical medics from Gainesville Fire Rescue and a SWAT physician. SWAT team members train religiously and work to stay in top physical form. Members are required to train ten hours a month and at least one full week a year. Training topics include firearm proficiency, building entry and clearing skills, hostage rescue, less lethal force options and terrorist incident resolution. A SWAT team candidate must meet basic requirements, including but not limited to at least two years of patrol experience, a clear Internal Affairs record and a recommendation from their supervisor before they can try out for a place on the team. SWAT team candidates must complete a rigorous full day selection process testing both mind and body including but not limited to firearms proficiency, rappelling, a 1 ½ mile run in under 12 minutes and bench pressing 120% of your body weight. If an officer meets the minimum requirements and successfully completes the selection process, they will then be considered for a place on the team.
The Gainesville Police Department, Special Weapons and Tactics Team is an invaluable resource in the handling of unusual occurrences. The availability of a highly trained tactical team has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of injury or loss of life to citizens, the police and suspects.