The National Tactical Officers Association announces the latest update to its SWAT Standard. This document establishes a basic set of standards for law enforcement agencies and serves as an efficient, core set of concepts and principles that improve standardization within the profession of tactical law enforcement services.
The NTOA’s mission is to enhance the performance and professional status of law enforcement personnel by providing a credible and proven training resource, as well as a forum for the development of tactics and information exchange. In line with this mission, the association first offered the SWAT Standard in 2008. In 2011, the standard was reviewed, expanded and updated to represent the most contemporary best practices being used in the law enforcement community.
In recent years, tactical law enforcement operations have come under significant scrutiny, and the need for increased standardization and professionalism is more evident than ever before. Earlier this year, the NTOA Board of Directors authorized another review and update of the SWAT Standard. A Standard Review Committee was established with 11 members, each having significant and diverse backgrounds in law enforcement tactical operations. The committee was comprised of five state tactical officer association representatives, a retired police chief, a deputy police chief, two representatives from the FBI and two representatives from the NTOA.
An open comment period was established for NTOA members to offer their input and suggestions. Subsequently, the Standard Review Committee evaluated each of those comments and made changes where necessary. Committee members also agreed that two significant topics were missing from the document: a team typing matrix and a glossary.
Over the last several years, many NTOA members have shared stories about how they had successfully proposed increases to their team’s capabilities by referencing the NTOA standard, but were disappointed that the document did not contain suggested team types. The Standard Review Committee was careful to link these types to previously existing mission capabilities and general assumptions of the most common types of deployments that teams encounter. Including a glossary was also vitally important to ensure that a common language is utilized in training documents, courtroom testimony and between teams during multi-jurisdictional operations.
Because this latest version goes far beyond merely SWAT teams, the document has been renamed the NTOA Tactical Response and Operations Standard. It is important to remember that any agency that chooses to use this standard as a benchmark for performance and operations does so voluntarily.
The NTOA does not mandate compliance with this standard or attach such compliance as a prerequisite for any benefit granted under membership. This and future versions of this standard are living documents. It will require our organization to seek out those best practices and ensure that they are accurately reflected in the standard.