Today, I sadly learned of the ending of a great record...
When the Los Angels Police Department (LAPD) formed it's Special Weapons And Tactics Team in the 1960s, they began charting territory that has not likely been thought of since the urban fighting that took place during World War II. For a long time, it has been said that the LAPDs SWAT team has never had a team member killed during a deployment.
In the beginning anything more powerful then a shotgun or a double action revolver would have been a tremendous upgrade in ordinance for most American police officers. Some time after an engagement with members of a group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army, in which the criminals exchanged more then 3,700 rounds with police officers (including SWAT). The LAPDs SWAT team began to carry their own military-class automatic weapons and body armour, that are so well known today.
During the 1980s, the LAPD sent officers over seas to learn from the best of hostage rescue and close quarters combat ready troops Europe has to offer, including the mighty Special Air Service. Since the shootings at Columbine, even more police officers have become much more heavily armed, in order to deal with the dangers involved but it is still SWAT that leads the tactical edge.
Between 2001 and 2003, members of the LAPD SWAT team took part in 332 SWAT call outs and served 210 high risk warrants without losing one of their own. In approximately 41 years of service, there has only been one LAPD SWAT officer killed in the line of duty. In Feb of 2008, Randal Simmons, a 27-year veteran officer with the LAPD died at the age of 51; When he was killed in Winnetka California during a SWAT call up.
I very sadly learned of this fact today, having long seen the death rate of the LAPDs SWAT team members as a true testament to the groups remarkable skill and dedication.