The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit was created in 1997 to respond to barricaded gunman calls, hostage takings, sniper situations, suspected acts of terrorism, riots, large scale disturbances, and to serve high-risk warrants. The unit began with six members using surplus military equipment and has now grown to 15 members today who are equipped with some of the best individual and team equipment available.
Each member of the unit must complete basic and advanced SWAT training, plus additional courses in chemical agent deployment, breaching, hostage rescue, tactical operations in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) environment, counter-surveillance, rappelling, waterborne operations, diversionary device deployment, and specialty impact munitions. Four members of the team are trained as marksman/observers and must attend additional training each month to maintain their skills. The team also has a dive element that can perform underwater operations if needed.
The SWAT team is on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year in case of an emergency. The unit is a regional resource and has been called to several other counties to conduct operations on behalf of other agencies through mutual aid requests.