NTOA History

The National Tactical Officers Association was established in 1983 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain, then-Lieutenant, John Kolman. Mr. Kolman hoped to provide a communications link between SWAT units throughout the United States and, later, other countries. Initially, membership in the Association was available exclusively to past or present law enforcement or military personnel assigned to SWAT/tactical teams and support personnel, i.e., hostage negotiators and TEMS personnel. However, in 1996, the NTOA also opened membership to all sworn active and retired law enforcement personnel and sworn correctional officers. This marked a significant event in the history of the NTOA because it enabled the Association to expand and prosper, thus providing additional services to the membership.

All prospective members of the NTOA must meet prescribed membership criteria. Membership records are considered confidential, and exact figures are not disseminated. However, what can be stated

is the membership is presently comprised of more than 30,000 members, including more than 1,600 teams. Largely through the hard work of our instructors and a realistic costing approach, the NTOA training program continues to grow. Member services are also expanding in the areas of tactical data collection, equipment surveys, program reviews and training program and instructor development.

Each year since its inception, the NTOA has conducted a well-attended comprehensive five-day tactical operations training conference in September. In addition, NTOA hosts a Crisis Negotiations conference and a Breacher’s Symposium. Information about all three events is available on this Web site. The Executive Director of NTOA, John Gnagey, the entire staff and the Board of Directors encourage our members to participate in these excellent training opportunities.


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A Brief History of SWAT

The use of teams comprised of specially selected, trained and equipped personnel to resolve high-risk incidents, such as barricaded suspect/hostage situations, was born out of necessity. One of the most influential causes for the origination of these teams was the so-called “Texas Tower” shootings at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman killed fifteen people and wounded thirty-one others on August 1, 1966. Also influential were the violent riots and disorders of the decade of the sixties, many of which involved sniper fire directed at police and civilians.

Among the first agencies to organize SWAT teams were the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, both having established their fledgling teams during the latter part of 1966. The acronym SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) was originated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The passage of time has proven that the use of SWAT teams is the safest and most effective means of resolving high-risk incidents.

Our Mission
The mission of the National Tactical Officerís Association is to enhance the performance and professional status of law enforcement personnel by providing a credible and proven training resource as well as a forum for the development of tactics and information exchange. The Associationís ultimate goal is to improve public safety and domestic security through training, education and tactical excellence. The National Tactical Officerís Association operates with Varitas (Latin for truth, honesty and integrity) in our relationships.

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