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Tarpon Springs Police Department SWAT Team

The Tarpon Springs Police Department SWAT Team utilizes highly trained , highly skilled law enforcement tactical operators when called upon to assist in the resolution of critical incidents. The concept of the SWAT Team is to provide an organized structured response to critical, high risk situations which are beyond the capabilities of other departmental units. The use of SWAT Teams nationwide has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of injury or loss of life to citizens, police officers and suspects.

It is the goal of Tarpon Springs SWAT team to resolve each situation with the minimal amount of force necessary to safely manage the situation.

The mission of the Tarpon Springs S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team is to provide the department with the capability to safely resolve high-risk situations and save lives. The use of the specially trained team members decreases the likelihood for resistance and enhances the safety of police personnel, occupants of the residence and the surrounding community. The Special Weapons and Tactics Team is committed to serving our community and carrying out our mission with dedication and professionalism to achieve our goal of saving lives.



The SWAT Team was formed in 2006 with the main goal of maintaining a high level of preparedness and tactical proficiency to successfully resolve any high risk situation with the utmost regard for the preservation of the lives of all persons involved. The police department will utilize SWAT to respond to situations in which serious injury or death could be imminent, and where the use of a specially trained tactical team could neutralize the effects of any person(s) actually or potentially threatening the safety of the public. While uniformed Officers can and do handle the vast majority of incidents, there are occasions where the specialized training and equipment available to SWAT is needed. The presence of a skilled police tactical unit has been shown to substantially reduce shooting incidents and reduce the risk of injury or loss of life to innocent citizens, police officers, and suspects. Some examples of these types of situations are:

  • Hostage situations

  • Barricaded subjects

  • High-risk suicidal subjects

  • High risk search warrants/raids

  • High risk arrests Officer and citizen rescue under fire

  • VIP protection details

  • Counter sniper

  • Civil unrest

  • Other situations where the likelihood of armed or violent resistance appears great.


In addition, the team is actively involved in community education through public relations appearances and demonstrations.


The SWAT team is currently composed of 13 dedicated, highly trained, and motivated members who are on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Team members must be ready and prepared for a call out with only a moment's notice. SWAT team members volunteer for the team and compete for openings during the tryout process and testing. The position is a collateral assignment, meaning that each member has a primary assignment within the department (such as patrol officer, detective, etc.) and serves on the SWAT team in addition to these duties. Currently, members of the SWAT team include 10 Tarpon Springs Police Officers and 3 Tactical Medics from the Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue. SWAT members must complete an approved SWAT Operators course and receive consistent, monthly training.

To maintain the skills necessary to handle high-risk situations, SWAT members train rigorously on a monthly basis, both in-house and with other local agencies. This training consists of firearms qualifications and proficiency, room clearing and search techniques, team movement, unarmed defensive tactics, use of chemical and less lethal munitions, breaching, vehicle take-downs, crowd control and other similar concepts. SWAT operators also attend specialized, tactical training courses at other facilities. In addition, several of the SWAT members hold instructor ratings in various disciplines and provide instruction to other Department members.

The team has specialized tactical equipment at their disposal for use that includes an armored vehicle, a mobile command vehicle, a variety of firearms, less lethal munitions, chemical agents and other tactical equipment. All equipment and vehicles utilized for the Tarpon Springs SWAT Team are purchased from federal forfeiture funds, which means the state of the art equipment comes at no cost to the community.

SWAT team members include the SWAT medics. The members are paramedics who provide dedicated emergency medical support for the SWAT team during tactical missions and training. They are capable of administering advanced life support care of life threatening medical emergencies in the tactical environment. These medics allow rapid access of specialized emergency medical care to the sick and injured when hostile conditions preclude a timely conventional emergency medical response. The medics must complete a basic SWAT school, as well as a Tactical Emergency Medical Support course. In addition, they attend and participate in the monthly training for SWAT operators.


Another arm of the SWAT team is the Crisis Negotiations Team, which is currently made up of three police officers. The Tarpon Springs Police Department intends to enlarge the number of negotiators, to continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the this unit. Negotiators work in conjunction with the SWAT team and are specially trained to resolve critical incidents by attempting to maintain open lines of communication. All negotiators receive initial POST certified training in crisis negotiation and critical incident management, in addition to receiving on-going training in conflict resolution. Ultimately, the method by which crisis situations are resolved is determined by the behavior of and decisions made by the subject; however, we take all reasonable efforts to obtain a nonviolent resolution. Negotiation defusing skills represent law enforcement's most successful tool in this area.


Commander - runs the team and is the decision maker on SWAT operations during a critical incident. The Commander also oversees the training of the team.

Team Leader - is responsible for the tactical deployment of the mission.

Sniper - is a selected marksman, who provides overwatch of the team during missions and maintains a position to observe and report intelligence information to the commander and team.

Operators - have various assignments, such as breaching, entry, chemical munitions deployment, less lethal operator, distraction device deployment, shield operator and other duties.

Tactical Medics - are TSFR paramedics, who have been certified through a Tactical Emergency Medical Care course and SWAT school. They accompany the SWAT team operators during missions to provide emergency care if necessary.

Team Intelligence Leader - is tasked to obtain intelligence in reference to missions for the Commander. The TIL oversees and assists the negotiators. Crisis Negotiators - support the SWAT Mission by gathering intelligence, establishing communications, and facilitating peaceful resolution of high-risk incidents through negotiation whenever possible.

The use of teams comprised of specially selected, trained and equipped personnel to resolve high-risk incidents, such as barricaded suspect/hostage situations, was born out of necessity. One of the most influential causes for the origination of these teams was the so-called Texas Tower shootings at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman killed fifteen people and wounded thirty-one others on August 1, 1966. Also influential were the violent riots and disorders of the decade of the sixties, many of which involved sniper fire directed at police and civilians.

Among the first agencies to organize SWAT teams were the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, both having established their fledgling teams during the latter part of 1966. The acronym SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) was originated by the Los Angeles Police Department. The passage of time has proven that the use of SWAT teams is the safest and most effective means of resolving high-risk incidents. From National Tactical Officers Association website.

If you find yourself in an area where a S.W.A.T. Team is deployed, it is very important that you follow some simple rules.

  • Do not try to drive or walk into the area

  • Do not try to become involved

  • Stay indoors, stay away from the windows, and lock your doors

  • If you are told to evacuate, follow instructions and comply with the evacuation (Remember: If you are told to evacuate, it is for YOUR safety)


It is a natural curiosity to try to watch what is going on, but if you can see the action, you are too close to the incident and may be in harm's way.

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