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"S.W.A.T. is a life-saving organization, not a life-taking one. That's why the FBI and Secret Service come here to train with us."

Sometimes, even the cops have to dial 911.

One of the more iconic, recognizable, and dramatic images of law enforcement, a Special Weapons And Tactics Team cuts an immediate and dramatic figure in any crime drama, police serial, or other story that immediately tells everyone present that the situation is deadly serious. They are usually called in for hostage scenarios, fortified and armed suspects, high-risk warrant raids, riot control, and terrorist threats. SWAT teams are easily recognizable, clad in black/blue clothing, helmets, body armor, and wielding heavy weaponry, such as assault rifles or shotguns. They also use special tactical gear like flashbang grenades, and travel in armored vehicles. They usually wear masks, be they balaclavas or gas masks, both for practical reasons (most balaclavas are fireproof, and gas masks help when dealing with tear gas) and to help keep them anonymous and impossible to read.

The role of the SWAT team in fiction varies depending on the work in question. If they're on the heroes' side, they can be either elite, well-equipped problem solvers, the rescue party who bursts in to save the day, or inept or ill-fated mooks who die to show how dangerous the villains are. In other works, a SWAT team can serve as a Hero Antagonist if they oppose a protagonist who is falsely accused or otherwise principled but on the wrong side of the law. If the protagonists are criminals, a SWAT team is often the faceless masses that exist to get gunned down, or a major threat to the protagonists. In very cynical works involving a Crapsack World or dystopia, the SWAT team can be State Sec made up of Dirty Cops. Effectiveness and role generally depends on the Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement.

SWAT teams in fiction are often inaccurately portrayed as opening fire immediately on suspects, or otherwise being Trigger-Happy, or even deliberately killing suspects who present no immediate threat. In reality, as the page quote shows, SWAT serves as a life-saving police unit. The ideal objective when a SWAT team is sent in is that everyone—hostage, bystander, operator, and suspect—comes out alive. SWAT officers have very specific procedures they usually have to follow; for example, a SWAT officer is supposed to clearly identify himself to a suspect, and can only open fire if the suspect raises a weapon or otherwise presents a threat to the life or safety of another. Of course, police procedures in a fictional setting may also deliberately diverge from real life, and even in reality, not all jurisdictions have the same standards.

In recent years, the deployment of SWAT teams in real life has been increasingly called into question. Originally intended to respond to situations that, typically, would be unlikely to be encountered even once in any given officer's entire career, the vast majority of SWAT deployments are now to execute arrest and search warrants, often against non-violent offenders. Radley Balko's non-fiction book Rise Of The Warrior Cop covers a lot of the history of SWAT—noting that in the LAPD standoff with the Symbionese Liberation Army, the SWAT team asked for a grenade launcher and were told in no uncertain terms that they did not have permission to obtain or use one. Fastforward to the present day, and hundreds of surplus grenade launchers, fifty-calibre machine guns, and armoured vehicles have been given to police forces across America - despite the fact that violent crime has been declining for decades. Indeed, in the late 2010's "SWATting" attacks (where a hoax call is used to try and bait a SWAT team into raiding someone's house — leading to a fatality shortly after the Christmas in 2017) have become a serious issue, especially amongst Youtubers, livestreamers, and other online celebrities.

On the other hand, proponents argue that the heavy equipment being distributed to SWAT is more necessary now more than ever. A major catalyst for this argument was the 2008 Mumbai attacks, where Indian police were completely outmatched against the attackers and led to a SWAT team being formed after the fact, as well as the raid on al-Qaeda terrorists after the 2004 Madrid train bombings, in which the terrorists blew themselves up in midst of the assault and several GEO officers saved their lives only thanks to their protective gear. With the establishment of ISIS as well as al-Qaeda shifting to a more decentralized operating structure, terrorist attacks involving multiple attackers armed with heavy weapons and armor have become increasingly commonplace, such as the attacks in Paris in January and November 2015 followed by the December 2015 San Bernardino attack. During the Bataclan siege in Paris, RAID officers credited their military-grade equipment with saving their lives.

May also be referred to as ESU (Emergency Service Unit) in the many shows about New York City Cops.

Examples of this trope:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Not content with just SWAT, Appleseed introduces ESWAT — Extra-Special Weapons and Tactics teams. These guys are definitely on the Badass Army side of the scale; they're almost a military in Olympus.
  • SWAT teams are featured throughout Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; on three occasions, Section Nine deploys to resolve hostage situations Niihama SWAT can't handle; Batou and Saito rescue a Japanese Coast Guard Special Security Team operator; Aramaki holds off a corrupt CO19 team in London with a grenade, an alarm clock, and clever thinking; and there's the Narcotics Suppression Squad, a SWAT Team made of dirty cops and unsavory types, run by the Ministry of Health.
  • SWAT snipers are deployed by the Dubai Police Force during the Orchestra arc of Jormungand, but aren't terribly effective.
    • Among the HCLI crew, Lutz was a former SWAT sniper before he joined Koko's team.
  • Anti-Skill in A Certain Magical Index is the non-powered portion of city law enforcement, and most frequently shows up as SWAT teams. They're fairly competent, but out of their league against the more powerful Espers and sorcerers.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department deploys the Special Assault Team in Terror in Resonance to locate the bombs Sphinx planted in Episode 3. The SAT is again deployed in Episode 6 to secure Haneda Airport against a terrorist attack.
  • The Special Assault Team eventually gets deployed in Parasyte against the titular monsters. They're far more trigger-happy than in reality, due to being up against inhuman monsters and led by a soldier who orders them to shoot on sight.
  • A few Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais elements (Special Police Operations Battalion) were sent to raid the penthouse in Rio de Janeiro where Alucard and Seras are staying in the third volume of Hellsing, having been told by their Millennium-backed superiors that they are terrorists. Their performance against Alucard is... typical.

  • In Still the Twelfth Man, one of these is dispatched when Max Walker barricades himself inside the commentary box with Richie Benaud hostage.

    Comic Books 
  • In Watchmen, a NYPD ESU team goes after Rorschach midway through the comic and subdues him, though not without him kicking some serious ass in the process.
  • The Punisher: SWAT's effectiveness varies. they're generally portrayed as reasonably competent, but not as skilled, experienced, or especially as ruthless and violent as Frank Castle.
  • In the Marvel Universe, a New York city ESU team named Code: Blue, composed of badass cops equipped with above-average technology occasionally helps the local heroes deal with supervillains.
  • Superman's home city of Metropolis also has a similar team known as the Special Crimes Unit.
  • In Batman: Year One, Gotham City's Police Dept.'s SWAT team is a murderous goon squad gleefully following the orders of the corrupt Commission Loeb. When they tried to corner and kill Batman, they are no match for him.
  • All-New Ultimates: There is one, led by Paul "The Crippler" Dennis.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • SWAT units appear in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In the former, they're little more than a Redshirt Army who can't stop either Batman or the villains, but in the latter they are actually pretty competent and effective, once they realize the Joker has switched the hostages and his minions.
  • SWAT appears again early on in The Dark Knight Rises; in the initial engagement with Daggett's men they hold their own, but a number of them are easily sniped by Barsad, Bane's right hand man. Many of the cops sent to search the sewers are also SWAT.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, an LAPD SWAT team responds to the break-in at Cyberdyne. They fatally wound Miles Dyson, but are utterly helpless against a cyborg like the T-800, who casually incapacitates most of them without killing them.
  • In The Negotiator, a SWAT unit attacks protagonist Danny Roman when a couple of Dirty Cops try to take him out when he gets too close to the truth behind his friend's murder. The SWAT team is driven back without anyone getting killed, though one of them is captured in the process.
  • In The Siege, the FBI SWAT team leads the raid on a safehouse where co-conspirators in the bombing of an MTA bus are holed up. During both bus hostage situations, the NYPD Emergency Services Unit makes appearances.
  • Both Boston Police Department and FBI SWAT teams appear in the Fenway Park shootout in The Town, with the deaths of criminals Desmond Elden, James Coughlin and Albert Magloan all coming at the hands of SWAT team bullets.
  • In The One, Jet Li's character Gabriel Law is a member of the Los Angeles County SWAT. An alternate-universe SWAT unit is also featured at the beginning of the movie, and a multiversal SWAT equivalent appears throughout the movie.
  • SWAT serve as a Redshirt Army in Die Hard and Die Hard 2. The LAPD SWAT team doesn't even get to fire a shot, whereas the five-man airport SWAT unit, when ambushed by four of Colonel Stuart's henchmen, only is able to kill one of the mercenaries before being entirely wiped out. It takes McClane to take out the remaining three soldiers.
  • In Hard Boiled, HKPF Special Duties Unit operators show Big Damn Heroics in the hospital siege by helping to evacuate the maternity ward.
  • In Dawn of the Dead (1978), a SWAT team, including two of the main characters, raid a Zombie-infested apartment building in the beginning. They sport the usual early-era black bulletproof vests and caps as well as M16 rifles.
  • In Mosul (2020), the Nineveh Province SWAT team has spent a better part of the ISIS occupation of Iraq resisting the forces of Daesh with unparalleled brutality and commitment. By the events of the film, Daesh considers their ilk to be labelled "unforgivable" and will not take any SWAT member prisoner. The SWAT returns that sentiment to Daesh tenfold.
  • BOPE, the protagonists of The Elite Squad, were originally a conventional hostage rescue SWAT Team. Now they're a Badass Army that fights fire with fire. (At best.) Or as the director said in an interview "SWAT teams are trained to rescue. BOPE are trained to kill."
  • The Raid follows an Indonesian SWAT Team called Detachment 88 going into an apartment building filled to the rafters with the worst thugs in the city. At the end of the movie, only two D88 cops survive. Out of twenty.
  • S.W.A.T. (2003) is centered on a Los Angeles Police Department SWAT team. The movie starts with Street and Gamble getting thrown off one, then about a third of the way in Sgt. Hondo Harrelson comes in and handpicks a new one, including Street.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A van of SWAT officers are among the assassins who ambush Nick Fury while disguised as police officers. Their van is also carrying a tripod mounted battering ram meant to breach the bulletproof glass on Fury's SUV.

  • The Rainbow Six novel and games focus on an international version of this composed of special forces troops and police officers recruited from various nations who work as a counter-terror and hostage rescue unit.
    • Other Tom Clancy novels have included appearances by the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team. An HRT sniper is a recurring character.
  • In Shadow Ops, a New York City ESU team is assigned to support Shadow Coven when they're called in to take down a rogue Physiomancer loose in the sewers underneath the city. Being Muggles in a setting where said Physiomancer can literally reshape human flesh at will (both others and its own), most of the unit gets horribly massacred in the ensuing encounter.
  • In Daemon, a FBI Hostage Rescue Team attempts to assault Sobol's booby-trapped mansion. Most are driven back, but one of them, Roy "Tripwire" Merritt, manages to get in, becoming a Hero Antagonist and Famed In-Story.
  • Last Man Standing: This David Baldacci novel is about FBI Agent Web London, the Sole Survivor of an FBI HRT raid that spectacularly failed with the entire team except Web being taken out by an Auto-turret. Web spends the novel dealing with the trauma, the guilt and eventually investigating the circumstances behind the failed raid.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has "hit-wizards" among the Ministry of ML Agic law enforcement personals who arrested Sirius Black on 1981.

    Live Action TV 
  • The TV series S.W.A.T. (1975), which the above-mentioned film was based on and was one of the earliest examples on TV. Generally what happens is a crisis goes down that requires SWAT attention, the SWAT team gears up and piles into its infamous "War Wagon", and the criminals give up the second they see SWAT on the scene.
  • S.W.A.T. (2017), an adaptation of both the original 1975 series and the 2003 film, is likewise about the members of an LAPD SWAT unit.
  • Both SWAT teams and FBI Hostage Rescue Teams appear in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles frequently, when police and the FBI close in on either the Connors or the machines hunting them. It almost always ends badly for them. Their usage here falls under Wrong Genre Savvy in that Ellison knew he was against a serious threat and called out the HRT, assuming they could deal with any reasonable enemy. Unfortunately he was dealing with a Terminator and SWAT teams don't bring anti-tank weapons.
  • 24 features numerous variations of SWAT teams and federal response units, and CTU has their tactical teams. They generally serve as a Redshirt Army, as the phrase "we're setting up a perimeter" is synonymous with "the badguys are already escaping." When the tactical teams do manage to contain the badguys, however, the resulting gunfight is usually a Curbstomp Battle in favor of the good guys.
  • In The Cape, the local city's SWAT units are actually Private Military Contractors that serve as the Faceless Goons for the Ark Corporation.
  • Flashpoint is about the Strategic Response Unit, which is an Emergency Response Team-type unit based in a City with No Name (filmed in Toronto, Canada). Much like the original S.W.A.T. (1975), nearly every episode has them responding to a major incident that in real life would be a rare event.
  • SWAT teams have appeared from time to time on Burn Notice, usually forcing Team Westen the additional challenge of avoiding shootouts they can't win.
  • FBI Hostage Rescue Teams also show from time to time on Criminal Minds; in one episode they deploy to protect the FBI building from an UnSub who's a retired Navy SEAL. He gets into the building before they're even deployed.
    • Plenty of non-HRT SWAT teams show up in the series as well. Of particular note is one episode where a SWAT team launches a raid on a heavily armed cult compound while two members of the team and a social worker are inside, which after a gun battle leads to the team members getting captured and the social worker killed.
  • Civilian SWAT teams appears a few times on JAG.
    • In the second season episode "The Guardian", Bud is trapped inside a church with a crazy homeless veteran who is a murder suspect and an MPD SWAT team is sent to the church and captures the suspect, but only after Harm has done his usual share of heroics.
    • In "The Martin Baker Fan Club", an MPD SWAT team enter Harm's appartment after one of the crazy fugitive veterans grabbed a side arm from a police officer. The suspect is arrested but another veteran is shot at.
    • The opening of "The Colonel's Wife" is of a San Diego SWAT team, while on a drug bust, discovers the origin of a drug shipment.
    • In "Persian Gulf", an MPD SWAT team enters after Mac killed the terrorist Fadik Sahd.
  • Blue Heelers has the Victoria Police equivalent Special Operations Group used several times throughout the series. One season five episode had them wearing the Boonie hats and looking more like soldiers dressed as police or police with body armor and special weapons, much like the Heelers and other police are when they conduct high-risk operations. After the station bombing they are played straight; black outfits, helmets and body armor, storming, raiding and searching a bombing suspect, complete with weapons at low ready as they sweep and clear for any suspects or signs of explosives.
  • SOG also appear as the black suited super soldiers they are in Underbelly. They work with detectives to entrap and barricade Jason Moran before using sledgehammers to break him out of his car, Steven Owen uses them to arrest Carl Williams after he made death threats (Owen claimed he was armed and extremely dangerous, so they roughed him up) as well as planting listening and monitoring devices.
  • Law & Order features the NYPD Emergency Service Unit. They wear heavy vests and riot helmets and tend to carry Ithaca 37s and M16s. The Season 4 episode "Kids" even shows a female ESU officer being first through the door in a raid.
  • FBI SWAT officers appear in The Blacklist, but are usually given the Worf Effect; the SWAT team escorting Liz, Ressler and the General's daughter in the pilot is slaughtered and the VIP captured, while in "Anslo Garrick," the SWAT officers guarding the black site are easily killed by Garrick's mercenaries.
  • Person of Interest
    • In "The Devil's Share", the US Marshals have a SWAT Team guarding Alonzo Quinn. They prove to be ineffective against John Reese, who (while bleeding to death from barely treated gunshots) nonlethally curbstomps them to get to Quinn.
    • In "Aletheia", a Northern Lights assassination team adopts the guise of an FBI SWAT Team to eliminate a Vigilance terrorist group that's holed up in a bank.
  • As a show that revolves around the NYPD, ESU teams are a regular feature of Blue Bloods, responding to a variety of situations (including guarding Frank after he's been shot).
  • Hill Street Blues is one of the few Police Procedural series to have the commander of the precinct's SWAT teamnote  as a regular character, in the form of gung-ho Noble Bigot with a Badge Lt. Howard Hunter. A few of his team also achieve Recurring Extra status.
  • 19-2 has the Groupe tactique/Tactical Group for the Service de Police Métropolitain whenever the force needs them to go against armed criminals. Needless to say, they get into trouble when some of their elements get taken out by a bomb attack, pointing to the possibility of a rogue cop helping out organized crime in Montreal.
  • The Japanese drama S: The Last Policeman (which is based off of a manga) features a fictional police squad called NPS (National Police Safety Rescue) which is stated to have the ideal combination of the mobility of the SAT and the investigative skills of the SIT (Special Investigative Team). The movie sequel S: The Last Policeman - Recovery of our Future also has SAT, SIT, and SST units in it as well.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D. (and the source series, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger) featured a SWAT-themed Super Mode for the entire team; in this mode, they gain armor (including big vests), helmet add-ons (a headset and a targeting/infrared vision device), and large automatic weaponry. They also get the SWAT Megazord, composed of jets and able to turn into a Zord-sized BFG for containing criminals.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Netflix shows make use of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit on several occasions.
    • Daredevil:
      • In season 1's "Condemned", an ESU squad is summoned to a hostage situation where Matt Murdock has overpowered a rookie police officer who stumbled upon him and Vladimir Ranskahov in an abandoned building. This ESU squad is working for Wilson Fisk and have been tasked with murdering several cops at the scene. A sniper on the team splits off from the others, goes to a nearby rooftop, and, when given the green light by James Wesley, guns down Detective Christian Blake (who has become a liability to Fisk) and two uniformed cops (to make it look random), while the rest of the team storm the building, kill the police officer that Matt overpowered, and then kill off Vladimir as he takes one last stand holding them off so Matt can escape.
      • In season 2's "Dogs to a Gunfight," ESU is shown using Grotto as bait to lure the Punisher into a trap. They later try to shoot at the Punisher while he and Matt Murdock are engaged in fisticuffs on the rooftop.
      • In "Penny and Dime", ESU are shown on scene when Frank Castle is arrested in the cemetery. While he's recovering in the hospital from being tortured by the Kitchen Irish, he's considered a high enough risk prisoner (both to himself and other people) that an entire floor is cordoned off for him and guarded by an ESU squad overseen by Brett Mahoney.
      • ESU are later shown standing outside the courthouse after Frank Castle escapes from prison and DA Reyes gets killed.
      • The season 1 finale sees an FBI SWAT team escorting Fisk under guard to Rikers, until mercs working for Fisk ambush the convoy and try to free him (with season 3 implying that Tammy Hattley tipped them off). And then it turns out one of the officers in the truck has been paid off by Fisk.
      • Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter is an FBI SWAT sniper assigned to bodyguarding Fisk as he's being transferred from Rikers to the Presidential Hotel. He ends up catching Fisk's attention after he singlehandedly kills an Albanian hit squad that kills several of his colleagues in an attempt to assassinate Fisk for snitching, and from there, gets slowly turned by Fisk into a professional hitman.
      • "Aftermath": Anticipating that Matt will visit Melvin Potter upon noticing the fake Daredevil suit on Dex, Fisk sends an FBI SWAT team there to pick him up. Matt and Melvin fight off the SWAT team, though Melvin gets captured and Matt ends up having to flee empty-handed.
    • Jessica Jones: The police detail guarding Trish's hospital room in season 2 gets an ESU team after Jessica's mom kills Detective Costa's partner in the midst of escaping after a failed attempt to kill Trish. Some ESU accompany Costa when they catch up to Jessica at the ferris wheel right after her mom has been killed by Trish.
    • Luke Cage:
      • ESU officers are shown escorting Cottonmouth as he's perp-walked out of his club for killing Misty Knight's partner Rafael Scarfe.
      • With Luke posing problems for the Harlem gangs, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard and Willis "Diamondback" Stryker use Mariah's connections to manipulate the NYPD into bulk-purchasing Judas bullets, with ESU naturally being where they end up. Their plan involves Diamondback murdering a random police officer and pinning it on Luke. During Diamondback's Hostage Situation at Harlem's Paradise, ADA Blake Tower expresses his reservations about this move to Inspector Priscilla Ridley, and wants to stall the possibility of a violent confrontation between Luke Cage and the Judas-armed ESU team because he knows it's only a matter of time before these kind of bullets end up on the street and in the hands of criminals.
    • Iron Fist: Once Danny Rand has driven the Hand out of Rand Enterprises, Harold Meachum backstabs him by framing him for the Hand's activities and sends a DEA SWAT team after them. Danny and Colleen overpower the SWAT team and escape. After Danny, Colleen and Ward defeat Harold, Jeri Hogarth gets the assault charges against Danny and Colleen dropped thanks to a generous contribution to the DEA Widows and Children's Fund.
    • The Defenders: An ESU team is summoned to Midland Circle in the climax and is responsible for evacuating Misty Knight after her right arm is cut off fighting Bakuto.
    • The Punisher:
      • Dinah Madani and Sam Stein feed some false information to a bug in Dinah's office to trick whoever's on the other end into thinking that Frank Castle will be making a gun buy at the second floor of an abandoned factory. Billy Russo and a couple of PMCs on his payroll show up at the location, and subsequently open fire when the SWAT team reveals themselves. Several SWAT officers are killed in the gunfight, as are all of Russo's men. Before Russo escapes, he manages to corner and stab Sam to death with a retractable knife concealed in his right sleeve.
      • An NYPD ESU team headed by Brett Mahoney responds when Frank shows up at the hotel where Lewis Wilson tries to assassinate Karen Page and Senator Ori. They train their guns on Frank as he uses Karen as a "hostage" to escape.
  • The Japanese Police Procedural Crisis (2017) focuses on an "unofficial" unit of the Special Investigation Team as they covertly dispose of terrorist threats to the state. The Special Assault Team also has a Big Damn Heroes moment in Episode 8.
  • The Wire: Baltimore Police Department SWAT teams do show up from time to time for raids.
    • SWAT are deployed en masse to raid Barksdale stashhouses after Kima Greggs gets shot in an undercover buy gone wrong.
    • The most notable use of the SWAT team in the show is in the antepenultimate episode of season 1, when they are about to arrest Avon Barksdale in his office. Jimmy McNulty sees the show of force as a little bit excessive, so he and Daniels do better: they just wordlessly walk up the stairs to the office like a walk in the park, put the handcuffs on Avon, then walk out. The only words being when McNulty tells Stringer, "Catch you later."
    Jimmy McNulty: This isn't as much fun as I thought it would be...
    Cedric Daniels: SWAT guys do love to break out their tools, don't they?
    Jimmy McNulty: Do they think there's Tony Montana up there? These guys probably haven't touch a gun in years. [beat] Ah, fuck this shit. You and me, Lieutenant.
    • The season 3 finale sees Rawls deploy SWAT and lots of patrol officers as part of the show being put on to clear out Hamsterdam, the unauthorized "drug-free zone" that Major Colvin had been running. This also impacts the Major Crimes Unit, who have to borrow Western District cops like Herc and Carver to go arrest Avon Barksdale and his men at one of their stashhouses because Rawls denies them access to the SWAT unit.
    • Season 4 sees the hostile Lt. Charles Marimow, installed in Major Crimes on Rawls' orders to scuttle investigations with major political implications, utilize SWAT teams in a failed attempt to raid some of Marlo Stanfield's stash houses, but the information is bad and they only succeed in arresting some low-level members of Marlo's crew.
    • In season 5, Kenneth Dozerman ends up in the tactical unit after the Major Crimes Unit is shut down due to Carcetti's cutbacks.
  • In the 1990's Australian series Police Rescue, having been involved in several real-life controversial shootings at the time, the NSW Tactical Response Group were portrayed as somewhat Trigger-Happy to contrast with our heroes who of course were 'good' police who only wanted to save lives.
  • In Phoenix, another 1990's Australian series, thanks to the above-mentioned scandals the Major Crime squad has to show they have reasonable cause to believe the criminals are armed before they can even deploy the Special Operations Group. And this while they're investigating a case involving a car bomb set off outside a police station. After they do a raid and find the crooks have an Uzi on the premises (fortunately not used), then Lochie nearly gets shot with an elephant gun, they eventually get permission.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: Detective Tim Bayliss was a former member of a SWAT unit. Shortly after joining Homicide, he tries to brag about his previous position only to be mocked by his colleagues when they pinpoint that he's never actually been out in the field.
  • The Spanish TV show Money Heist prominently features the actual real life Spain equivalent to the SWAT: The GEO, or "Grupo Especial de Operaciones" ("Special Operations Group"). They have a very active role in both story lines.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Freedom City, the equivalent of DC's Special Crimes Unit is STAR Squad, standing for Superhuman Tactics and Regulation.
  • In GURPS Technomancer, SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Talismans, and they're meant to deal with criminals who have high-powered magic.

    Video Games 
  • Door Kickers has the player controlling a SWAT unit to clear buildings of various armed criminals. The sequel, Door Kickers 2, which is set in the Middle East against insurgents and terrorists, features the Nowheraki SWAT, which is a unit of soldiers and police native to the country. They have less advanced equipment compared with the Army Rangers and CIA squads, but can use shields, molotov cocktails, various types of Kalasnikov and NATO weapons, and large numbers of light militia.
  • SWAT serves as an enemy throughout the Grand Theft Auto games, generally as an antagonist in different missions, and as one of the grades of police response called in as more crimes are committed. By GTA IV, the SWAT team is replaced by a Homeland Security expy known as NOOSE, the National Office Of Security Enforcement.
  • The S.W.A.T. installments of the Police Quest games obviously involve this, eventually progressing from a point-and-click adventure game to a top-down tactical simulator to tactical squad-based first-person shooters. The SWAT games heavily emphasize the use of proper police procedure: cuff every enemy, collect evidence, report all injured or dead people, always announce your presence and demand surrender before firing, and especially emphasis on trying to take down suspects alive. The latest game in the series is SWAT 4, made by Irrational Games (the team behind BioShock and System Shock 2).
  • A Detroit SWAT unit appears early on in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, containing the hostage situation at the Sarif factory. They eventually go in after Adam Jensen enters the facility and recovers the top secret prototype he's after. Jensen himself is also ex-SWAT team leader. In the sequel to this game, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Jensen is now part of an Interpol SWAT unit called Task Force 29, which is comprised of ex-SAS and other Special Forces types.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, the NCR's Veteran Rangers utilize gear custom-made from Pre-War SWAT and Riot Police gear. Joshua Graham also wears a Salt Lake City P.D SWAT tactical vest as part of his custom armor, which the player gets a variant of after completing the Honest Hearts DLC.
  • This Is the Police has SWAT Teams, along with many other types of officer.
  • The Mass Effect games have a sci-fi equivalent in the form of Citadel Security's Special Response division. Aside from the usual SWAT-style duties, they also serve as the front-line defense of the Citadel if it is attacked. According to the second game, they suffered heavy losses while fighting off the geth incursion in the first game, and in the third, they take a hefty beating when a major Cerberus force attacks the Citadel in an attempt to assassinate the Council.
  • In Mafia II, Empire Bay has a SWAT unit that appears in several missions during the DLC's. This is a unique anachronism as the game is set during The '50s and the first SWAT teams didn't become operational until about 1964 or 1968.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist and its sequel has the SWAT as your main enemies since you're a heavily armed robber. The SWAT team come in varying appearances, gear, and tactics. There's also special SWAT units designed to disable you quickly.
  • SWAT in Batman: Arkham Origins is, for all intents and purposes, just another gang of thugs, usually seen shaking people off for protection money or violently disputing over turf with other gangs, and their chief is the single dirtiest cop in all GCPD (and that's saying something). They decide to completely ignore their police duties for the night in order to try to earn the bounty on Batman for themselves.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: The Allied Peacekeeper is the basic infantry unit, essentially a SWAT member with military-grade armor and a shotgun with low range but high knockback. They also get a riot shield that lets them tank ridiculous amounts of damage, but its main use is to clear out garrisoned buildings (at the cost of the unit).
  • Resident Evil:
    • Raccoon City's SWAT team appear in the intro cutscene in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis to showcase how powerful and dangerous the zombies have become by having the entire team slaughtered by them. The SWAT officers use submachine guns and shotguns while the regular police officers use pistols, but even the extra firepower were no match against the zombie horde.
    • S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) are the Raccoon Police Department's elite unit, brought in for the most dangerous missions. Each member wears a Custom Uniform, many of them are either ex-military personnel or have unique specialist skills, they have use of their own helicopters and carry weapons that are unique among the police force, such as their customised "Samurai Edge" pistols.
  • Japan's Special Assault Team is featured in Persona 4: Arena in the introduction to several characters' story modes foiling an attempted hijacking of an airliner. Naoto's story mode begin with the hijacking, but the SAT members are not actually seen as she isn't out on the runway. Aigis's story mode also begins with the hijacking, and it is only in her mode that we see the SAT operation as it unfolds. They are completely useless compared to the Shadow Operatives.
  • Halo may take place in the 2500s, but SWAT teams are still in use on most human worlds. They've only shown up in the games once, namely a brief appearance in the Halo 3: ODST audio logs where they take down an ex-cop who went postal.
  • In Parasite Eve 2, the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT unit is called into action to deal with a Neo-Mitochondrion Monster outbreak at the Akropolis skyscraper. By the time Aya Brea shows up on-scene, they're pretty much all dead.
  • In World War Z (2019), Tatsuo Matsumoto from the Japan chapter is a veteran policeman with years of experience in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's most prestigious special units: the Riot Control Unit, Special Assault Team, and Special Investigation Team.
  • The titular Chimera Squad of XCOM: Chimera Squad is set up like this, being limited in jurisdiction to a single city, a role based around taking down criminal and terrorist threats, a focus on breaching tactics, and travelling around in an wheeled APC.
  • SWAT Team Leader is a high-level job in the Law Enforcement career in The Sims and The Sims 2. Curiously, there is no actual job for SWAT cop, only SWAT leader.

    Western Animation 
  • The titular characters of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron were implied to be this before Commander Feral kicked them out of the Enforcers and demoted them to a salvage yard; hence their names as vigilantes. (Indeed, they function as the SWAT equivalent because they're the ones to beat the villains after the Enforcers have failed; but they typically dress in flight suits, not typical SWAT gear, and tend to use non-lethal weaponry along the lines of Abnormal Ammo, though they will kill if necessary.)
  • On Rocko's Modern Life a SWAT team arrests a squirrel for stealing a gas cap from Rocko. They all consist of koalas with fly-swatters.

     Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • The Reserve Unit of the Shanghai Municipal Police (established in 1925 by the legendary fighting instructor William Fairbairn) is often considered the Ur-Example of the modern SWAT team. The Unit was literally kept in reserve at the SMP training depot and was used to quell riots and serve as an extra layer of security for important items or people in addition to fulfilling "typical" current SWAT duties. To aid with the Unit's training, Fairbairn also developed the Mystery House – the first "kill house"-style shooting range, designed to resemble a Chinese apartment building and complete with pop-up shoot/no-shoot targets and audio distractions.
  • Modern SWAT teams first came into existence in the 1960s. The first team was a 100-man specialized unit established by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1964 in response to an alarming increase in bank robberies. The police wanted to be able to react quickly and decisively to bank robberies while they were in progress, by utilizing a large number of specially trained officers who had at their disposal a great amount of firepower. The tactic worked and was later soon to resolve other types of incidents involving heavily-armed criminals.
  • SWAT as we currently know them in municipal law enforcement was best refined by the LAPD. After the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965, the LAPD began considering tactics it could use when faced with urban unrest, rioting or widespread violence. Daryl Gates, who led the LAPD response to the riots, would later write that police at the time didn't face a single mob, but rather "people attacking from all directions." There was the fear of lone or barricaded gunmen who might outperform police in a shootout, as happened in Austin with Charles Whitman. Gates had originally intended "SWAT" to stand for "Special Weapons Attack Team", but changed it to "Special Weapons and Tactics" when advised that the city government would be unlikely to accept a police unit being called an "attack team".
    • Many U.S. cities don't use the term "SWAT". Common titles in include Emergency Response Team, Special Response Team, or Tactical Response Team.
      • The NYPD and the Port Authority Police are unique for law enforcement entities, in that the functions of a SWAT team (high risk warrant raids, hostage situations, counterterrorism, security details, etc.) are just one of many duties given to the Emergency Services Unit. ESU is assigned to handle any situation that requires advanced equipment and expertise, which include SWAT, serious car accidents (rollovers and extrications), building collapses and more.
      • The NYPD does have one ESU detail that is strictly SWAT operations. It's known as the Apprehension Tactical Team or the "A-Team". It was founded in 1989 in order to supplement the ESU's sometimes overwhelming requirement to perform raids throughout the city (at the height of the crack epidemic). The A-Team strictly performs tactical missions which, on a day-to-day basis are typically High-Risk search warrants. The A-Team is widely considered to have the highest operational tempo of any US tactical team, sometimes performing as many as 800–1000 missions per year. The team can be called upon to support any unit within the NYPD, federal law enforcement agencies, or outside municipal police departments upon official request for tactical entries. Members of the A-Team are also utilized as tactical and firearms trainers for ESU and other NYPD units. The A-Team has participated in many of the city's most notable criminal take-down operations. Members of the team are recruited from within ESU, based on team needs and assignment to the team is highly selective. A-Team members are still required to maintain all of their periodic ESU certifications and proficiencies, and must be able to support the non-tactical ESU on any type of operation should the need arise.
  • "SWAT" is the term used to refer to special response units belong to local county governments in the United States, with federal law enforcement branches having their own equivalents (for example, the FBI field office SWAT teams and the Quantico-based FBI Hostage Rescue Team). The SWAT name has also been used in the following countries:
    • Bangladesh. Under the control of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, but under the Detective Branch.
    • China. Major cities/towns like Beijing and Shanghai have their own SWAT under the control of the local Public Security Bureau. The following are patches used by PSB SWAT units.
    • The Philippines. Each city has a SWAT team under the control of the Philippine National Police.
      • And the PNP also has a specialized counter-terrorism team, the Special Action Force.
    • South Korea (Similar to the Philippines).
    • The city of Dubai in the UAE has a SWAT unit created in 1991 under the Dubai Police Force's General Department of Organisation, Protective Security and Emergency.
    • In India, the city of Delhi has a SWAT unit of its own in 2009 (Officially in action by 2010) to counter potential terrorist attacks in the city after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 with the first of its officers trained by the National Security Guards and Israeli security contractors. The state of Punjab also has a SWAT unit, whose existence was officially announced to the public in 2009 with its first officers also trained by Israeli security contractors. In 2010, Aligarh has established a SWAT team within its own police force.
  • Germany has the GSG-9 (Grenzschutzgruppe 9 - Border Protection Group 9) a highly successful anti-terror group which was formed after the 1972 Olympic Games Massacre, which saw common riot police and beat cops advancing on the terrorists in stahlhelms and colourful tracksuits (in a botched attampt at 'disguise') with military-grade rifles they had never used before. In recent years, the SEKs and MEKs fulfill the SWAT role while the GSG-9 functions similarly to the Hostage Rescue Team when federal police resources are used.
  • The closest analogue to a SWAT in Russia and the Former Soviet Union is SOBR spetsnaz (formerly known as OMSN) which is under the authority of the National Guard. Like many special purpose police units, they were formed after the Munich Olympics tragedy. Like SWAT, they are rapid response paramilitary police units specializing in high-risk criminal arrests, counter-terrorism and cordoning. Unlike most SWAT teams however, they can be called upon by the Russian authorities to serve in a war zone, with SOBR being called to serve during the war in Chechnya. Another organization is OMON, an organization that acts as a special police unit with similar duties, and has since been also merged into National Guard of Russia (Rosgvardiya).
  • British Coppers have these as well, easily recognisable because they're the only uniformed police who openly carry firearms (Officers of the Civil Nuclear Constabularynote  or Protection Commandnote  may also carry weapons, but you're pretty unlikely to see one in your day-to-day life). The Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime and Operations Specialist Firearms Command, SCO19 (Previously known as S019 or C019) is probably the most famous, thanks to Britain Is Only London. Of about 130,000 police officers in the United Kingdom, only about 6,600 are Authorised Firearms Officers, and Specialist Firearms Officers who train on SWAT-type tactics are even rarer - London only has about 70.
    • As described above, Australian coppers also have emergency police units from the Federal Police's Specialist Response Group to the Critical Incident Response Team, sort of the halfway point between beat police and proper SWAT. The most famous would arguably be the Sons of God, Victoria's Special Operations Group that is more or less a police expy of the SAS or the FBI HRT.
  • Spain has the GEO (Grupo Especial de Operaciones - Special Operations Group) which is part of the national police. It was openly inspired in the German GSG-9 and the British SAS.
  • Japan's closest equivalents would be the Special Assault Team under the National Police Agency. They operate as a mixture of regional/city-based SWATs and the FBI's HRT as they're deployed in Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Fukuouka and Okinawa on a case-by-case basis if the local special police unit need assistance or the NPA deems it necessary for their intervention. Most of the time in the said places, they act as the city/prefectural SWAT unit.
    • Other cities/prefectures have their own special police units to act in the place of the SAT in a local situation under a police department's Criminal Investigation Department in order to provide SWAT-based manpower for officers working in the department. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has the Special Investigation Team. The Osaka Prefectural Police has the Martial Arts Attack Team. Chiba Prefectural Police has the Assault Response Team. Saitama Prefectural Police has the Special Tactical Section. The Kanagawa Prefectural Police has the Special Investigation Section and the Aomori Prefectural Police has the Technical Special Team with the Hiroshima Prefectural Police has the Hostage Rescue Team.
      • For the Akita/Iwate/Ibaraki/Miyagi/Fukushima/Tochigi/Shizuoka/Aichi/Mie/Fukuoka/Nagasaki Prefectural Police, their local SWAT-style units are also called the SIT, named after the TMPD's own unit.
    • Each city/prefectural police also has some anti-riot officers trained to conduct SWAT-based missions in a city/prefecture as a first responder when reports of gun usage against fellow officers, civilians or politicians are reported. The Anti-Firearms Squad is embedded in (at least) one anti-riot platoon.
    • The Japan Coast Guard has the Special Security Team, its own anti-crime/terrorist unit that operate in Japanese territorial waters.
  • The Singaporean equivalent is STAR (Special Tactics and Rescue), under the command of the Singapore Police Force's Special Operations Command. They mainly deal with counter-terrorism and crimes involving firearms.
  • American prisons have CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team), who serve a roughly analogous role.
  • France has two version:
    • The GIGN (Groupe d'intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale, "National Gendarmerie Intervention Group"), is the Gendarmerie's tactical unit. Created on 1973 to deal with hostage-taking, they are active in rural areas and abroad.
    • The RAID (Recherche, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion , "Research, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence") is the unit for the National Police and is mainly active in urban areas.
  • SWAT teams have been a recent introduction into India following the November 26 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. Mumbai got first dibs, as their cops were no stranger to gunning down criminals in “encounters”. They called it Force One. The Central (armed) Reserve Police Force was next, with the establishment of the COBRAs - Commando Battalions for Resolute Action, although this unit is more geared towards jungle warfare against guerrilla insurgents.


FBI SWAT deployment

FBI SWAT teams based in LA are tasked for a raid in Koreatown.

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Main / SWATTeam

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