SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers. SWAT team members' duties include: performing hostage rescues and counter-terrorism operations; serving high risk arrest and search warrants; subduing barricaded suspects; and engaging heavily-armed criminals. SWAT teams are often equipped with specialized firearms including sub-machine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, riot control agents, stun grenades, and sniper rifles. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, advanced night vision optics, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers inside enclosed structures.
The first SWAT team was established by inspector Daryl Gates in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968. Since then, many American and Canadian police departments, especially in major cities and at the federal and state-levels of government, have established their own elite units under various names; these units, regardless of their official name, are referred to collectively as SWAT teams in colloquial usage.
The Hays County SWAT team was first established in 1994 by the Hays County Sheriff's Office and was originally called SORT (Special Operations and Response Team). The team was reorganized and joined forces with the San Marcos Police Department in 1997, and was renamed SWAT. The SWAT team typically responds with the Hays County Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT). This ensures that the officers responsible for talking to the individuals in crisis are kept safe and can concentrate on their assignment knowing that they have protection from the potential threat posed from that individual.
The SWAT team members all attend a week long Basic SWAT Course and must pass a rigorous application and testing process. Numerous training days are held throughout the year to enhance team response and maintain readiness.