412 – Tactical Response Call-out Procedures (SWAT)

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I. Purpose

The engagement of a tactical response shall not preclude deputies on the scene from performing life-saving maneuvers while waiting for the arrival of assistance.

II. Definitions

Field Operations Division (FOD) Commander: The captain assigned as the Field Operations Division commander.

Regional Tactical Partners: Municipal, county, state, or federal law enforcement agencies within the region who possess units or divisions with special weapons and tactics capabilities.

Tactical Response: A response by a specially-trained and equipped tactical team to an incident that may exceed the capabilities of conventional law enforcement first responders or investigative units

III. Policy

This policy identifies the circumstances that require consideration of a tactical response and the notification and reporting procedures that shall be followed when requesting a tactical response.

IV. Procedure-Unplanned Call-outs

A. G A tactical response may be needed whenever one or more of the following circumstances are present:

1. Active shooter,

2. Terrorist incident,

3. Hostage situation,

4. Barricaded subject who has threatened the life of another, or

5. Any situation where a heightened risk to the safety of officers or the public exists or is anticipated.

B. When an employee becomes aware of a situation or circumstance that either requires a tactical response or may be better resolved by a tactical response, he or she will make the request for tactical response via his or her chain of command. The requesting employee’s bureau commander or designee shall give final approval of the request for tactical response.

C. Once the requesting employee’s bureau commander or designee approves the request for a tactical response, the bureau commander or designee shall request deployment of the Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) via the on-duty Communications Division supervisor. The Communications Division supervisor will immediately notify the Field Operations Division commander or designee of the reported threat situation.

D. Upon notification by the Communications Division, the Field Operations Division commander or designee will evaluate the provided information to determine whether a tactical response by SWAT or its tactical support personnel will be initiated. If the FOD commander or designee determines that a tactical response is justified but the situation exceeds the capabilities of SWAT, the FOD commander or designee may call out other regional tactical partners to either assist or supplant SWAT’s response.

E. The FOD commander or designee will notify the Homeland Security Bureau commander of all requests for tactical responses.

F. Upon the SWAT supervisor or designee’s arrival at the scene, tactical command will be transferred from the on-scene commander or supervisor to the on-scene SWAT supervisor or designee. The SWAT supervisor or designee will ensure that a sufficient quantity of support personnel from the requesting bureau remains at the scene to hold the perimeter or to perform other safety support duties pending resolution of the incident.

V. Procedure – Planned Call-outs

A.  tactical response may be requested whenever one of the following circumstances exists:

1. Execution of a high-risk search warrant,

2. Execution of a high-risk arrest warrant,

3. High-risk personal protection assignment, or

4. Any other situation that exceeds the tactical capabilities of the requesting parties.

B. Planned call-out requests may be made by any division commander or designee to the Field Operations Division commander or designee.

C. Initial requests and pre-event coordination for planned call-outs do not require notification via the Communications Division. However, Watch Command shall be notified of the tactical response deployment prior to execution.

VI. Procedure – Self-Initiated Deployments

A. SWAT may self-deploy to any scene where there is reasonable belief that its presence would benefit public safety.

B. Self-initiated deployments may be initiated by the Field Operations Division commander or the SWAT supervisor. In all cases, the Homeland Security Bureau commander or designee must concur.

C. The Communications Division must be notified of any unplanned, self-initiated deployments as soon as possible.

D. The Communications Division must be notified of any planned, self-deployments prior to execution.

VII. Procedure – External Requests

A. External unplanned requests for a tactical response from outside the Harris County Sheriff’s Office shall be routed through the Communications Division. Upon receipt of the request by the Communications Division, the Field Operations Division commander or designee shall be notified, and an appropriate response shall be initiated.

B. External planned requests made directly to the Field Operations Division commander or designee shall be reported to Watch Command prior to the execution of any planned tactical response.

VIII. Procedure – Reporting

A. Original reports shall be generated by the requesting district or division.

B. SWAT shall generate supplement reports as necessary.

C. When SWAT assists an outside agency, the assisted agency will generate an original report and will provide its case number to SWAT.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

November 5, 2012

April 29, 2021

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