More SWAT teams sprang up around the nation throughout the sixties seventies, where they were most needed. For instance, in 1975, the Fresno Police Department put together a SWAT team that consisted of ten men – two sergeants and eight deputies. They armed themselves with weapons confiscated from properties and evidence. That same year, in San Jose, California, Fred Solomon stabbed and tried to rape a woman in her home. When her children called police, he led his pursuers on a chase across San Jose.
During the chase, Solomon stole three vehicles, threatened various people, kidnapped and shot a doctor.
Finally, Solomon hijacked a Continental Airlines 727. He was brought down by a sharpshooter on San Jose’s SWAT team (UPI, 1975). The SWAT concept was so new in 1975 that newspapers had to explain to their readers what the initials stood for. In 1977, a group called MOVE holed themselves up in a house, along with rats, dogs and excrement. When neighbors complained about the smell, inspectors had gone to investigate, but were blocked by MOVE protestors.
Police then went in to aid the inspectors. When one of the officers spotted a gun in the hand of a MOVE member, he asked her to throw down her gun.
Instead, MOVE opened fire on the SWAT team below. The members then threw a little girl out of their basement window as a shield. A plainclothes officer rescued her, and the SWAT team managed to capture automatic weapons and ammunition that the group had stored in its house.
Some of MOVE’s members were then charged with murder. Their children were taken, given baths, and turned over to Welfare, because MOVE was against soap, and burying garbage (UPI, 1978). In 1979, a San Diego sixteen-year-old, who had received a gun as a Christmas present from her father, opened fire on teachers and students at an elementary school.
She killed the school’s principal, a custodian, and an officer who attempted to bring a wounded child to safety. She also wounded children from age six to age twelve. The school was across from her home, which SWAT officers surrounded. Through negotiation, they convinced her to come out from her barricade. The girl claimed she had been trying to “cheer up” a Monday (UPI, Sniper kills two in school yard, 1979). In 1980, prisoners in Santa Fe, New Mexico took over the New Mexico state prison. Prisoners began fighting other prisoners, leaving more than twenty-seven inmates dead, before the SWAT team went in and regained control.
The deaths were brutal and caused by mutilation and burning. Reports said that the brutality was unthinkable. The SWAT team managed to keep all the hostages alive, overcoming the power of around 250 inmates. Here, the SWAT team demonstrated that the usual police power was not enough for specialized cases. The ability of SWAT officers to avoid unnecessary violence was showcased as well (UPI, 1980). In 1984, the SWAT team was called in, when Olympic athlete, Kari Swenson was kidnapped by mountain men as she was jogging.
When Swenson’s friend Alan Goldstein found her and tried to free her, the men shot and killed him. Swenson herself was also shot in the gunfire, and nearly bled to death, but the athlete was found in time and rushed to the hospital. Her captors, Don and Dan Nichols managed to escape. Therefore, the SWAT team, using high-technology equipment and flying helicopters, were asked to search for them (Anez, 1984). Although the team did not succeed in its initial attempts, the two mountain men were brought into custody later in the year (Hauser, 2008).