Special Weapons Section (SWAT)

SWAT logo

The Orange County Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team was established in 1970 to provide a variety of specialized law enforcement services to the unincorporated county areas, the Department's 13 contract cities, John Wayne Airport, OCTA, Superior Courts, Probation Department and the county's harbors, parks and beaches. The team is comprised of four individual teams. Each team is made up of 11 operators including a Sergeant, Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader. The SWAT team includes Snipers, Breachers, and is also a critical member of the county's Joint Hazardous Assessment Team (JHAT).

SWAT is available on a 24-hour basis and responds to critical incidents to assist department personnel. SWAT’s calls to service consist of barricaded suspects, hostage situations, sniper/active shooter situations, riot and crowd control, dignitary/site protection, and high-risk prisoner security. In addition, SWAT assists other Sheriff's Divisions during the service of arrest and search warrants in high-risk or hazardous situations. SWAT also works regularly with the departments Bomb Squad (HDS), Hostage Negotiators (CNT), Air Support, and Canine Services (K9). SWAT members provide expert instruction to personnel at the Sheriff's Department as well as other police agencies in areas such as, patrol tactics, tactical/covert crisis entries, warrant service techniques, advanced firearms, mobile field force tactics, and rapid deployment/response to an active shooter.

Sheriff's sworn personnel desiring to join SWAT must participate in a 1 day multi-phase testing process. The process includes a written examination, a rigorous physical fitness test, qualification on the SWAT pistol course, and finally an oral interview with the Team Commander, Supervisors, and Team Leaders to assess tactical thinking abilities. After being selected new members will go through a two year probationary period before earning the title, Operator.

Deputies assigned to SWAT receive training in the use of sophisticated weapon systems, rappelling and fast roping, helicopter / boat insertion, less lethal munitions, dynamic and covert entries, explosive breaching techniques, counter terrorism tactics, and hostage rescue techniques.