SWAT Teams – as we now know them – began HERE, in LA. Though there was a similar acronym coined out in Philadelphia where there was a mint, and lots of banks… getting robbed. So many, in fact, that Special Weapons and Tactics teams were created just to put a stop to them. That was in 1964.
In 1965, on this coast, we had the Watts Riots. It was a much different situation than the one in Philadelphia, ours was a community uprising. And Daryl Gates, a different kind of guy, then the LAPD Inspector, focused in, as a solution to this type of event, not on defense nor negotiation, but on offense. Coincidently, his 180 degree approach took on a name with the same letters; SWAT said it all then, and to this day: Special Weapons Attack Team.
Apparently, he saw civil unrest, swarming crowds coming at police from all sides – we’ll put aside for the moment any thoughts of why communities under his watch might be ready to revolt (although the Black Panthers and others made it pretty clear) – out-gunning holed-up lone gunmen, and the necessity of getting in doors where folks were discussing how thy might exercise their constitutional Rights. This was, after all, the mid 60’s – enlightenment was… rampant.
In the 1967-68 Congressional session, concerns about the Panthers, Civil Rights groups, the resistance to the War on Drugs , and a push from a Republican House Representative gave SWAT teams the go-ahead. And off they went…http://theweek.com/articles/531458/troubling-rise-swat-teams