The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has a new full-time SWAT force, a tactical change that is here to stay, Chief Rick Hite tells the Indianapolis Star. “They're targeting those violent offenders in those areas where we have violent crime,” he said. In the past, the city's SWAT team operated on a callout basis, suiting up specifically to deal with dangerous situations such as crowd violence or armed suspects barricaded inside buildings. The full-time SWAT team, with about a dozen members, has a different mission: to seek out and neutralize violent offenders.
That objective, said Lt. Chris Bailey, means the heavily armed SWAT officers are often “working with district personnel to identify hot areas and conduct covert investigations.” The anti-crime plan, fully operational since last month, has the blessing of top city officials, from Mayor Greg Ballard to Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. It has other components, as well: community meetings in neighborhoods within 72 hours after a shooting; close monitoring of people with a history of violence; careful tracking of robbery felons recently released from prison. The permanent members are getting a hand from about 35 part-time SWAT team members, Bailey said. Full-time SWAT teams are not commonly seen across the U.S.; 85 percent of law enforcement agencies don't have one, according to the National Tactical Officers Association. They are a staple in some of the nation's biggest cities, such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.