Culture and Society

When and where were SWAT units first created?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is credited with creating the first SWAT units in the 1960s. The rioting and looting that occurred during that decade caused police departments across the U.S. to reassess their own ability to handle violent situations. The 1965 Watts Riots, as well as the sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin a year later, drove home the feeling that changes in law enforcement tactics and equipment were needed. Daryl Gates, the future LAPD police chief, was an early supporter of SWAT. While the idea of a police department using military tactics and equipment was initially met with some resistance, SWAT soon proved its worth when tactical officers were called up to handle a barricaded stand-off with the radical Black Panther Party in 1969. After SWAT units were established in L.A., they spread to police forces in other large cities, where they helped in the fight against gang violence. However, SWAT units could soon be found across the country.

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