Quick Responce Team
QRT Baltimore Quick Responce Team began forming in 1974/75 when members of Tactical Units realized a need for better training and better equipment, to handle riots, and hostage situations, following in the footsteps on other agencies they were going to name their team SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) But the department found the word SWAT to be too harsh (Political Correctness circa 1975) The follow pictures taken from the Baltimore Sunpaper will show some of our earliest members of QRT, our fonding fathers you might say, of today’s Baltimore SWAT team (BTW in 2006 after 20 years the department finally gives in and joins 1975 – just kidding, the men and women that have worked QRT/SWAT over the years have been some of the elite in and already elite department of police that take pride in their job, and in protecting the citizens they swore to protect) )
Photo taken by Sun Photographer Joseph A. Dialola
The QRT officer in the back might be Lenny Rummo? The first officer ringing the doorbell is John McGuire, behind John is Frank Icanvino (sp?). Officer McQuire left the BPD soon after this photo was taken to work for the State Department. Photo was taken at 1010 Broadway as QRT was looking for a shooting suspect back in July-03-1978
Picture Taken by Sunpaper Photographer Walter McCardell
Left to Right Officer Dennis Dean, Officer Ronnie Hubbard and Officer Al Erhardt
October 29, 1976 As members of Quick Response Team (QRT) suit up on Greenspring Ave. the call came out as man with a gun in the 5800 block of Western Run Dr. – The Newspaper article said – Police don flak jackets for a foray against what turned out to be a juvenile prankster. So if you ever wonder why police approach every scene with caution, now you know, they don’t know the dangerous calls, from the prank calls, the good guys from the bad guys, and just like you, they want to go home at the end of their shift.
Quick Responce Team
Seen standing in this pic with a .30 cal. carbine rifle covering the front of the location (1500 blk Federal St) in 1978, is Jerry DeManss. This was the location where Officer Mike Casizzi was shot in the stomach. I worked Mike Casizzi years later, he was good police.
QRT Counter Sniper
To become a QRT/SWAT Counter Snipers, the marksman has to practice all the time, and their qualifying test has them shooting the .308, at targets less than half the size of a human skull, from a distance of as much as 75 yrd’s on a timed course, and the marksman has to shoot a 100% in order to make Marksman and become a “Counter Sniper”.
Baltimore SWAT Team
QRT (Quick Response Team) is renamed SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) after 32 years the department finally changes the name of this highly trained, elite team. (Initially in 1974 while forming the team the department was against using the name SWAT because they felt the name was too harsh for the department image. Political correctness circa 1974.)
“No matter how tired or sweaty I felt, when a situation was resolved and we (the team ) were leaving the location with the usual media crush with lights and cameras on, I would not, at that moment, trade places with anyone in the world” A quote from Jerry DeManss and all the QRT’ers
Courtesy Lt. Don Healy
Courtesy Lt. Don Healy
Courtesy Lt. Don Healy
Courtesy Lt. Don Healy
Quick Response Team
Special Weapons And Tactics
Police at the front door of a house in the 2300 block of Allendale Road in West Baltimore where officers confronted an armed man who had fired at least one shot, according to officials. (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / November 8, 2007)SUN PHOTO
A police vehicle sits at the corner of Gwynns Falls Parkway and Allendale Road near a West Baltimore house where police confronted an armed man who had fired at least one shot, according to officials. (Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / November 8, 2007)
Photo courtesy Herb Moseley
Photo courtesy Herb Moseley
SWAT (“Special Weapons And Tactics”) is a commonly-used proper name for law enforcement units, which use military-style light weapons and specialized tactics in high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular, uniformed police. “SWAT” is commonly-used internationally, as a colloquial, generic term for these units.
Their duties include: confronting heavily-armed criminals; performing hostage rescue and counter-terrorism operations; high risk arrests and; entering armored or barricaded buildings. Such units are often equipped with specialized firearms including submachine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, riot control agents, stun grenades, and sniper rifles. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, advanced night vision optics, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers, inside enclosed structures.
Some sources state that the first use of “SWAT” as an acronym for “Special Weapons and Tactics” was the Special Weapons and Tactics Squad established by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1964. – A more prominent early SWAT team was established in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1967, by Inspector Daryl Gates. After that, many United States law enforcement organizations, especially the police departments of major cities, as well as federal and state agencies, established their own elite units under various names. Gates explained in his autobiography Chief: My Life in the LAPD that he neither developed SWAT tactics nor the associated and often distinctive equipment; but that he supported the underlying concept, tried to empower his people to develop it, and generally lent them moral support. Gates originally named the platoon “Special Weapons Assault Team“; however, his name was not generally favored and was rejected by his manager, deputy police chief Ed Davis, as sounding too much like a military organization. Wanting to keep the acronym “SWAT“, Gates changed its expanded form to “Special Weapons And Tactics“.
While the public image of SWAT first became known through the LAPD, perhaps because of its proximity to the mass media and the size and professionalism of the Department itself, the first SWAT-type operations were conducted north of Los Angeles in the farming community of Delano, California on the border between Kern and Tulare Counties in the San Joaquin Valley. At the time, César Chavez‘ United Farm Workers union was staging numerous protests in Delano, both at cold storage facilities and outside non-supportive farm workers’ homes on city streets. The Delano Police Department responded by forming ad-hoc units using special weapons and tactics. Television news stations and print media carried live and delayed reportage of these events across the United States. Personnel from the LAPD, having seen these broadcasts, contacted Delano and inquired about the program. One officer then obtained permission to observe the Delano Police Department’s special weapons and tactics units in action, and afterwards took what he had learned back to Los Angeles where his knowledge was used and expanded on to form the LAPD’s own first SWAT unit.
John Nelson was the officer who conceived the idea to form a specially trained and equipped unit in the LAPD, intended to respond to and manage critical situations involving shootings while minimizing police casualties. Inspector Gates approved this idea, and he formed a small select group of volunteer officers. This first SWAT unit initially consisted of fifteen teams of four men each, making a total staff of sixty. These officers were given special status and benefits, and were required to attend special monthly training sessions. The unit also served as a security unit for police facilities during civil unrest. The LAPD SWAT units were organized as “D Platoon” in the Metro division.
The first significant deployment of LAPD’s SWAT unit was on December 9, 1969, in a four-hour confrontation with members of the Black Panthers. The Panthers eventually surrendered, with three Panthers and three officers being injured. By 1974, there was a general acceptance of SWAT as a resource for the city and county of Los Angeles.
On the afternoon of May 17, 1974, elements of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a group of heavily-armed left-wing guerrillas, barricaded themselves in a residence on East 54th Street at Compton Avenue in Los Angeles. Coverage of the siege was broadcast to millions via television and radio and featured in the world press for days after. Negotiations were opened with the barricaded suspects on numerous occasions, both prior to and after the introduction of tear gas. Police units did not fire until the SLA had fired several volleys of semi-automatic and automatic gunfire at them. In spite of the 3,771 rounds fired by the SLA, no uninvolved citizens or police officers sustained injury from gunfire. However all the gunmen inside were killed.
During the gun battle, a fire erupted inside the residence. The cause of the fire is officially unknown, although police sources speculated that an errant round ignited one of the suspects’ Molotov cocktails. Others suspect that the repeated use of tear gas grenades, which function by burning chemicals at high temperatures, started the structure fire. All six of the suspects suffered multiple gunshot wounds or perished in the ensuing blaze.
By the time of the SLA shoot-out, SWAT teams had reorganized into six 10-man teams, each team consisting of two five-man units, called elements. An element consisted of an element leader, two assaulters, a scout, and a rear-guard. The normal complement of weapons was a sniper rifle (a .243-caliber bolt-action, based on the ordnance expended by officers at the shootout), two .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles, and two shotguns. SWAT officers also carried their service revolvers in shoulder holsters. Standard gear included a first aid kit, gloves, and a gas mask. At a time when officers were usually issued six-shot revolvers and shotguns, it was a significant change to have police armed with semi-automatic rifles. The encounter with the heavily-armed Symbionese Liberation Army, however, sparked a trend towards SWAT teams being issued body armor and automatic weapons of various types.
A report issued by the Los Angeles Police Department, following a shootout with the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, offers one of the few firsthand accounts by the department regarding SWAT history, operations, and organization. On page 100 of the report, the Department cites four trends which prompted the development of SWAT. These included riots such as the Watts Riots, which in the 1960s forced the LAPD and other police departments into tactical situations for which they were ill-prepared; the emergence of snipers as a challenge to civil order; political assassinations; and the threat of urban guerrilla warfare by militant groups. “The unpredictability of the sniper and his anticipation of normal police response increase the chances of death or injury to officers. To commit conventionally trained officers to a confrontation with a guerrilla-trained militant group would likely result in a high number of casualties among the officers and the escape of the guerrillas.” To deal with these under conditions of urban violence, the LAPD formed SWAT, notes the report.The report states on page 109, “The purpose of SWAT is to provide protection, support, security, firepower, and rescue to police operations in high personal risk situations where specialized tactics are necessary to minimize casualties.”
The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado on April 20, 1999 was another seminal event in SWAT tactics and police response. As noted in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, “Instead of being taught to wait for the SWAT team to arrive, street officers are receiving the training and weaponry to take immediate action during incidents that clearly involve suspects’ use of deadly force.” The article further reported that street officers were increasingly being armed with rifles, and issued heavy body armor and ballistic helmets, items traditionally associated with SWAT units. The idea is to train and equip street officers to make a rapid response to so-called active-shooter situations. In these situations, it was no longer acceptable to simply set up a perimeter and wait for SWAT. As an example, in the policy and procedure manual of the Minneapolis Police Department, it is stated, “MPD personnel shall remain cognizant of the fact that in many active shooter incidents, innocent lives are lost within the first few minutes of the incident. In some situations, this dictates the need to rapidly assess the situation and act quickly in order to save lives.”
SWAT duties may include:
Perimeter security against snipers for visiting dignitaries
Providing superior assault firepower in certain situations, e.g. barricaded suspects
Rescuing officers or citizens endangered by gunfire
Resolving high-risk situations with a minimum loss of life, injury, or property damage
Resolving situations involving barricaded subjects
Stabilizing situations involving high-risk suicidal subjects
Providing additional security at special events
The relative infrequency of SWAT call-outs means these expensively-trained and equipped officers cannot be left to sit around, waiting for an emergency. In many departments the officers are normally deployed to regular duties, but are available for SWAT calls via pagers, mobile phones or radio transceivers. Even in the larger police agencies, such as the Los Angeles PD, SWAT personnel would normally be seen in crime suppression roles—specialized and more dangerous than regular patrol, perhaps, but the officers would not be carrying their distinctive armor and weapons.
Although due to Officers having to be on call-out most of the day, they may be assigned to regular patrol. To decrease response times to serious situations that need the direct attention of SWAT Officers, it is now a widely used method to place SWAT equipment and weaponry in secured lockers in the trunks of specialized police cruisers. Such departments that need to use this are Sheriffs due to the size of the counties and places like Los Angeles traffic may be high so LAPD use cruisers to respond with their Officers so they do not have to return to the police building. Although for heavier duty equipment they may need to depending on the situation that arises.
By illustration, the LAPD’s website shows that in 2003, their SWAT units were activated 255 times, for 133 SWAT calls and 122 times to serve high-risk warrants.
The New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit is one of the few civilian police special-response units that operate autonomously 24 hours a day. However, this unit also provides a wide range of services, including search and rescue functions, and vehicle extraction, normally handled by fire departments or other agencies.
The need to summon widely-dispersed personnel, then equip and brief them, makes for a long lag between the initial emergency and actual SWAT deployment on the ground. The problems of delayed police response at the 1999 Columbine High School shooting has led to changes in police response, mainly rapid deployment of line officers to deal with an active shooter, rather than setting up a perimeter and waiting for SWAT to arrive.
SWAT officers are selected from volunteers within their law enforcement organization. Depending on their department’s policy, officers generally must serve a minimum tenure within the department before being able to apply for a specialist section such as SWAT. This tenure requirement is based on the fact that SWAT officers are still law enforcement officers and must have a thorough knowledge of department policies and procedures.
SWAT applicants undergo rigorous selection and training. Applicants must pass stringent physical agility, written, oral, and psychological testing to ensure they are not only fit enough but also psychologically suited for tactical operations.
Emphasis is placed on physical fitness so an officer will be able to withstand the rigors of tactical operations. After an officer has been selected, the potential member must undertake and pass numerous specialist courses that will make him a fully qualified SWAT operator. Officers are trained in marksmanship for the development of accurate shooting skills. Other training that could be given to potential members includes training in explosives, sniper-training, defensive tactics, first-aid, negotiation, handling K9 units, rappelling and roping techniques and the use of specialized weapons and equipment. They may also be trained specifically in the handling and use of special ammunition such as bean bags, flash bang grenades, tasers, and the use of crowd control methods, and special non-lethal munitions. Of primary importance is close-quarters defensive tactics training, as this will be the primary mission upon becoming a full-time SWAT officer.
SWAT teams use equipment designed for a variety of specialist situations including close quarters combat (CQC) in an urban environment. The particular pieces of equipment vary from unit to unit, but there are some consistent trends in what they wear and use.
While a wide variety of weapons are used by SWAT teams, the most common weapons include submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles.
Semi-automatic pistols are the most popular sidearms. Examples may include, but are not limited to: M1911 pistol series, Sig Sauer series (especially the Sig P226 and Sig P229), Beretta 92 series, Glock pistols, H&K USP series, and 5.7x28mm FN Five-seveN pistol.
Common carbines include the Colt CAR-15 and M4 and Heckler & Koch G36 and HK416. While affording SWAT teams increased penetration and accuracy at longer ranges, the compact size of these weapons is essential as SWAT units frequently operate in Close quarters combat (CQB) environments. The Colt M16A2 can be found used by marksmen or SWAT officers when a longer ranged weapon is needed.
Common sniper rifles used are M14 rifle and the Remington 700P.Many different variants of bolt action rifles are used by SWAT, including limited use of .50 caliber sniper rifles for more intense situations.
To breach doors quickly, battering rams, shotguns with breaching rounds, or explosive charges can be used to break the lock or hinges, or even demolish the door frame itself. SWAT teams also use many non-lethal munitions and weapons. These include Tasers, pepper spray canisters, shotguns loaded with bean bag rounds, Pepperball guns, stinger grenades, flash bang grenades, and tear gas. Ballistic shields are used in close quarters situations to provide cover for SWAT team members and reflect gunfire. Pepperball guns are essentially paint ball markers loaded with balls containing Oleoresin Capsicum (“pepper spray”).
SWAT units may also employ ARVs, (Armored Rescue Vehicle) for insertion, maneuvering, or during tactical operations such as the rescue of civilians/officers pinned down by gunfire. Helicopters may be used to provide aerial reconnaissance or even insertion via rappelling or fast-roping. To avoid detection by suspects during insertion in urban environments, SWAT units may also use modified buses, vans, trucks, or other seemingly normal vehicles. During the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, LAPD SWAT commandeered an armored cash-delivery truck, which they used to extract wounded civilians and officers from the raging battle scene.
Units such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol‘s Special Response Team (SRT) used a vehicle called a B.E.A.R., made by Lenco Engineering which is a very large armored vehicle with a ladder on top to make entry into the second and third floors of buildings. Numerous other agencies such as the LAPD, LASD and NYPD use both the B.E.A.R. and the smaller Lenco BearCat variant. Anaheim Police Department has a customized B.E.A.R. fitted with a ladder for assaulting multi-story buildings. Many SWAT teams in the states and around the world, including the LAPD, fit their armored and non-armored vehicles with the Patriot3 Liberator and ‘MARS’ (Mobile Adjustable Ramp System) Elevated Tactics Systems for gaining entry to 2nd and 3rd story buildings, airplane assault, sniper positioning, ship access, etc.
The Tulsa Police Department’s SOT (Special Operations Team) uses an Alvis Saracen, a British-built armored personnel carrier. The Saracen was modified to accommodate the needs of the SOT. A Night Sun was mounted on top and a ram was mounted to the front. The Saracen has been used from warrant service to emergency response. It has enabled team members to move from one point to another safely.
The use of SWAT teams in non-emergency situations has been criticized. Radley Balko, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, authored Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.
Other studies include Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments by Diane Cecilia Weber from the same institute and Militarizing American Police: The Rise and Normalization of Paramilitary Units by Dr. Peter Kraska and his colleague Victor Kappeler, professors of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University, who surveyed police departments nationwide and found that their deployment of paramilitary units had grown tenfold since the early 1980s.