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Challenges Faced by S.W.A.T.

The first challenge to these pioneers in the field of special weapons and tactics came in 1969. On December 9th, search warrants for illegal weapons were served at the Black Panther Headquarters at 41st and Central Streets. The Black Panthers resisted and attempted to shoot it out with 40 members of the SWAT Team. In the ensuing four-hour siege, thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired, resulting in the wounding of three Panthers and three police officers. The Panthers finally surrendered to SWAT officers, whose first mission was now an indelible part of history.

In 1983, the Department sent three SWAT supervisors to Europe to evaluate and develop the techniques employed by military groups such as the German GSG-9, French GIGN, and the legendary British 22nd SAS. A rigorous and difficult training program was implemented with one objective: to develop a true hostage rescue capability within the LAPD SWAT Team.

The next major challenge for SWAT came in 1984. With the Summer Olympic Games coming to Los Angeles and terrorism proliferating around the world, Los Angeles was a probable target. The leaders of the Department and the SWAT Team again recognized a need and began to work diligently to develop a skill that did not yet exist within the LAPD SWAT Team or any other SWAT Team throughout the nation.

Over 2,000 hours of training, per officer, was invested in each operator in order to make this new concept a reality. In the 19 days of the 1984 Summer Games, SWAT officers worked a grueling 24 hours on and 24 hours off in a full-time training mode to polish those skills. The Los Angeles Summer Games came and went without an incident, but the counter-terrorism skills developed during that time raised the team to a new level.

Since the advent of the domestic hostage rescue skill, the LAPD SWAT Team has rescued dozens of hostages and currently handles approximately 100 barricaded suspect incidents and over 120 high-risk warrants a year.

The statistics for High Risk Warrants and Call Outs are as follows:

   2001  2002  2003
SWAT Call Outs
 111  88  133
High Risk Warrants Served
 35  53  122