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.
Prospective members of 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 approximately 40,000 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.
As the challenges and threats facing law enforcement evolve, so does the NTOA. From training classes to programs and benefits, NTOA strives to provide our members with the tools they need to protect an increasingly dangerous society. The establishment of the SWAT Standard in 2009 is just one example of that evolution. The goal was to establish a basic standard for member agencies and to serve as an efficient core set of concepts and principles that improve standardization within the profession of tactical law enforcement services.
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 an annual Crisis Negotiations conference. Information about both events is available on this website. The Executive Director of NTOA, Mark Lomax, the entire staff and the Board of Directors encourage our members to participate in these excellent training opportunities.