The Orange County Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, is comprised of one full-time 12 member Team with 2 full–time supervisors and two 12 member part-time teams with 2 part-time supervisors. The Unit was established in 1970 to provide a variety of specialized law enforcement services to the unincorporated county areas, the Department's 12 contract cities, John Wayne Airport, OCTA, Superior Courts, Probation Department and the county's harbors, parks and beaches. The SWAT team is also a critical member of the county's Joint Hazardous Assessment Team (JHAT).
SWAT is available on a 24-hour basis, responding to calls of barricaded suspects, hostage situations, sniper/active shooter situations, riot and crowd control, dignitary/site protection, and high-risk prisoner security. In addition, SWAT assists other Sheriff's Divisions during the service of arrest and search warrants in high-risk or hazardous situations. SWAT members provide expert instruction to personnel at the Sheriff's Department as well as other police agencies in areas such as, patrol tactics, tactical/covert crisis entries, warrant service techniques, advanced firearms, mobile field force tactics, and rapid deployment/response to an active shooter.
Sheriff's sworn personnel desiring to join SWAT must participate in a 2 day multi-phase testing process. The process includes a written examination, rigorous physical fitness test, qualification on the SWAT pistol course, a confined space and elevated heights confidence course, a series of practical application problems requiring the applicant to make split second decisions, and finally an oral interview with the Team Commander, Supervisors, and Team Leaders to assess tactical thinking abilities.
Deputies assigned to SWAT receive training in the use of sophisticated weapon systems, rappelling and fast roping, helicopter / boat insertion, less lethal munitions, dynamic and covert entries, explosive breaching techniques, counter terrorism tactics, and hostage rescue techniques.