Making SWAT: 4 vital components for making the team
Tips for young officers in their quest to make the SWAT team in their department
I’m often asked, “What can I do to prepare myself to make SWAT?” There isn’t one single thing a young officer can do that will make him or her look more appealing than others. However, there are four key components that will stand out on your resume. These four key components are essential to be a successful SWAT operator, so use them to guide your career and let them mold you character as a police officer. By doing so, you’ll gain the advantage in making the team — and along the way you’ll quickly become a better cop. Those four components are:
SWAT is an elite special operations unit within a police agency. SWAT officers train to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities and training of regular uniformed officers. SWAT officers are selected from volunteers within their law enforcement organization. SWAT applicants undergo a tough selection process and should attend rigorous training. The four abovementioned components are vital for successful selection to the SWAT unit.
Most applicants are given a physical agility test, written examination, and an oral interview. Some officers may be required to take a psychological test.
The Four Components
Teamwork: SWAT commanders will not take officers who have been unable to work in a team environment. Helping out other officers and taking constructive criticism while working in uniform are good ways to help your chances of making SWAT.
Physical Conditioning: Most SWAT teams have a physical fitness test during the selection process. The tests may include running, pushups, sit-ups, or obstacle courses. Staying in top physical shape is beneficial for your uniformed duties and a great way to prepare yourself for the selection process.
Motivation: Police work has its trials and tribulations and staying positive 24/7 is a healthy thing to do. More importantly it’s the SWAT officers whose resilience gives them a positive attitude toward the job (and life) during stressful times get to become SWAT.
Recently, my department interviewed 50 Special Response Team applicants. As the team commander, I sat in the interviews and was a part of the selection process. Some of the factors that I personally considered in addition to the four components during the selection process included:
When you consider all that has been mentioned, these factors and components can be found in many senior patrol officers that aren’t a part of SWAT. Something that I found beneficial to me in the Army — and as a rookie cop — was to emulate one of those senior officers who was well respected by their peers. It’s often difficult for rookie officers to define their police character, so start by picking up positive traits of a well-respected senior officer. As the years go by you will change the way you operate to become your own person, but the foundation has been laid.
Take these considerations with you, never give up, and work hard until you make SWAT.
Good luck and stay safe,
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