Special Weapons and Tactics Teams, or SWAT Teams began in the 1960's, due to the increasing number of hostage situations and of barricaded suspect incidents. Many law enforcement agencies throughout the nation have implemented or have access to some form of SWAT team. Contrary to the view the media has depicted of SWAT teams, they are highly disciplined, well-trained law enforcement officers, who will only use deadly force when absolutely necessary. "When people think of SWAT, they think of what they see in the movies and on TV. In a half-hour show, they'll kill five or six people " and most SWAT teams won't do that in an entire lifetime. SWAT teams use tactics to prevent shootings, and SWAT, if anything, is a life-saving organization. That's the thing the public doesn't understand- (http://www.enquirer.com/editions/1999/05/06/ loc_swat_teams_sharpen.html). They are committed to protecting the lives of innocent victims (Kolman ix).
In response to violence in the early 1960's, American police services began to use some military strategies against armed and barricaded suspects. SWAT teams originated at the Los Angeles Police Department under the command of Daryl F. Gates. After the Watt's riots, where 34 where killed and over 1,000 were injured, the LAPD realized a new tactic was necessary to prevent this from occurring again. "Gates and several of his officers began to study the military tactic and guerrilla warfare, and hired the best snipers of the service. These ones, because they didn't have equipment budget, used their imagination and creativity for their material: individually modified guns, mirrors, tools and so on- (http://www.geocities.com/tazcou1/english/origin.htm). Until the development of SWAT teams, barricaded suspect and hostage situations were left up to uniformed patrol officers who where probably not prepared or equipped to resolve the matter (Kolman 7).
In general a SWAT team contains at least five members.