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A Perspective on Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Teams

| June 28, 2019

SWAT teams are sometimes a necessity, and because of the nature of the incidents they are properly used for, team formation, training, and use should be required to meet a minimum standard throughout Texas.

Key points:

  • SWAT is a necessity for the highest risk, mostly pre-planned incidents where patrol officers are not equipped to respond.
  • The lack of state standards for training and capabilities should be addressed.
  • If parameters can be established for police officers who perform policing functions that can vary drastically in different parts of the state, basic definitions, requirements, and parameters can also be established for SWAT teams whose specialty is far more focused and narrow than the broader policing effort.
  • Best practices have been established by the National Tactical Officers Association and should be used to guide the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in establishing state-level minimum standards.


Randy Petersen spent 21 years as a police officer working in the patrol, investigations, training, and administrative divisions.  He retired as a patrol watch commander in 2014 and became the director of a police academy here in Texas.  He is currently the Senior Researcher for the policing initiative at Texas Public Policy Foundation.