Chicago, IL—I can remember the days when the Chicago Police Department rejected the idea of SWAT teams as a horrible idea. They did not want the public relations fallout from the SWAT concept. They recoiled at the idea we would become urban commandos.
They did have so-called heavy weapons training but that only involved the Ithaca Model 37 .12 gauge shotgun, the .30 US M-1 Carbine and a few 308 hunting style scoped bolt action rifles. These weapons were kept in wagons dubbed, The War Wagon and they were dispatched to difficult crime calls.
Ballistic vests were yet unheard of and our issued batons were made of wood. Our required duty weapon was a Colt or Smith & Wesson revolver chambered for a .357 or .38 special round. We were issued 12 round of .38 special ammunition. They were solid lead, round nose 158-grain bullets that bounced off most car windows.
Later they went to a hollow point all lead .38+P round that was somewhat better. We were allowed a second firearm either semi-automatic or another Colt or Smith & Wesson revolver. Many chose the Dirty Harry .44 magnum Model 29 or 1911 .45 semi-auto pistols. Now they heavily restrict the types of secondary handguns allowed.
Today they operate something they call the Hostage and Barricade Unit. It’s a SWAT team by another name. They have adopted military methods and now they have all that commando equipment.
The militarization of police agencies is reminiscent of the darkest times of Germany 1933-1945. They created the Brown Shirts (SA) and later the SS to do things most honorable military men would be ashamed to be involved with.