The Seattle Police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team) consists of 24 Police Officers, 4 Sergeants and 1 Lieutenant who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The unit's specially trained personnel provide tactical response to hostage situations, barricaded persons, sniper and terrorism incidents, crowd control during major disturbances or riots, work or school place violence and high-risk search warrant entries for various investigative units including Homicide, Robbery, Narcotics and Domestic Violence. They also support precincts by responding to patrol on high-risk calls for service.
When heads of state and international dignitaries visit Seattle, SWAT provides motorcade security and protection in collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of State. In addition, SWAT works directly with the Department's 20-person Hostage Negotiation Team to resolve hostage incidents non-violently.
While the goal of every Police Officer is to save lives and de-escalate the potential for violence, there are times when a violent suspect must be prevented from killing innocent victims or bystanders. SWAT marksmen are highly trained and disciplined to make precision rifle shots at several hundred yards away. The team also utilizes 'less lethal' weapons such as the Taser, wood, foam and plastic batons, and various chemical agents, all employed to prevent the use of police firearms.
To maintain the skills necessary to handle high-risk situations, SWAT members train rigorously on a weekly basis. Many SWAT members hold instructor ratings in various disciplines and provide instruction to other Department members and law enforcement agencies around the state. When their schedule permits, many members also provide firearms instruction to assist SPD Range staff in training and qualifications.