A Kinder Gentler SWAT?

Jennifer Bader, University of Colorado at Denver
Marcy Becker, University of Colorado at Denver
Mary Dodge, University of Colorado at Denver

Special Weapons and Tactical Teams (SWAT) are militaristic units established within law enforcement agencies to handle high risk, crisis situations. Efforts to integrate community policing philosophies and displace ninja warrior perspectives often held by the public have resulted in new acronyms designed to soften the image. This research, however, shows that SWAT training and procedures have switched to a more proactive, aggressive approach. In light of the fallout from incidents like Colorado's Columbine shooting and the World Trade Center incident many teams have shunned the idea that SWAT members could change expectations of their identity. The elite, masculine image has become reinforced as training standards have been heightened to emphasize rapid deployment, rigid physical fitness requirements, and weapon mastery. The bonding among officers is unique to the position and dominated by male imagery. This research presents qualitative data from interviews with active SWAT officers on the subculture, skills, and qualities necessary to perform the job.

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Updated 05/20/2006