SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams were formed in the mid-sixties after incidents such as the Watts Riots in Los Angeles and the Texas Tower Incident where a sniper shot people from the clock tower at University of Texas in Austin. Law Enforcement was not prepared to handle these types of incidents with the equipment and training available.
Columbus Police SWAT was reformed in 1987 after not having a team for a number of years. The team was then known as ERT (Emergency Response Team) and consisted of 5 team members. In 2002 the name was changed primarily due to questions such as; what is ERT? The answer was, it’s a SWAT Team.
To achieve a position on the team, applicants go through a physical fitness test and an interview process (to determine motivation and mental mindset) with current team members.
The purpose of the CPD SWAT Physical Assessment Test is to assess the physical capability, strength and endurance of prospective and current SWAT Team Members for selection and retention on the Team. The test consists of a two mile movement in full SWAT gear and carrying a shoulder fired weapon system. Upon completion of the movement, the members will climb a single flight of stairs, touching the far rail and return back down the stairway. Officers will conduct one full pull up while still in full gear. Officers will then remove tactical equipment and ground the gear. Officers will complete 30 pushups and 30 sit-ups. The officers then sprint 100 yards to a 3 foot fence, jump the fence and move to the Immediate Action (IA) Transport box. Without assistance, the officer must load the IA box into the rear of the transport vehicle (Approx 250 lbs). The entire assessment must be completed in less than 37 minutes.
The SWAT team is prepared to handle highly volatile situations including high – risk search warrants, armed suicidal persons, barricaded persons, hostage situations and many other high-risk scenarios. The SWAT team is comprised of Columbus Police Department Officers and Bartholomew County Sheriff Deputies who train together regularly. Columbus SWAT team members are on call 24/7, and are expected to respond at a moment’s notice.
Once new members are accepted, they go through a 30-40 hour training course, are issued personal equipment and a weapon, to have them ready to work with the team on an operation.
The SWAT team trains a minimum of 16 hours each month, working on tactics and firearm skills. Tactics include High-Risk Warrant Service, Barricaded Suspects, Crowd Control and Hostage Rescue. Weapons assigned to the team include light mounted pistols, AR 15 rifles, MP 5 Submachine Guns, Semi-auto Shotguns, 37 projectile launcher, 12 Gauge Less Lethal Weapon System, Chemical Agents (Tear Gas), and High Powered Rifles.
In addition to equipment carried by team members, the team has a large van with larger pieces of equipment such as ballistic shields, breaching tools, and generator.
Columbus SWAT is called upon an average of 8 times per year. SWAT has handled such incidents as:
- High Risk Search Warrants for Drugs;
- Meth Labs
- High Risk Arrest Warrants for Drug Dealers
- Meth Manufacturers
- Suicidal Persons
- Barricaded Subjects
- Armed Robbery
- Persons being held Hostage
Columbus SWAT continues to prepare for the worse case scenario to be ready to react and protect and serve the citizens of our community.