Horry County Police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team) under the command of Captain Kris Leonhardt is part of the Special Operations Division. SWAT consists of 14 Police Officers, 1 team commander and 2 team leaders who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The unit's highly motivated and specially trained personnel provide tactical response to hostage situations, barricaded persons, sniper and terrorism incidents, crowd control during major disturbances or riots, work or school place violence and high-risk search warrant entries for various investigative units including Narcotics, and Violent Crimes as well as supporting other local, state, and federal agencies upon request. They also support departmental precincts by conducting drug emphasis backup and respond with patrol on high-risk calls for service. In addition, SWAT works directly with the department's Explosive Ordinance Division, Bloodhound Tracking Team and Hostage Negotiation Team to resolve hostage incidents non-violently.
While the goal of every Police Officer is to save lives and de-escalate the potential for violence, there are times when a violent suspect must be prevented from killing innocent victims or bystanders. SWAT marksmen are highly trained and disciplined to make precision rifle shots at several hundred yards away. The team also utilizes 'less-than-lethal' weapons such as the Taser, wood, foam, beanbag, and various chemical agents, all employed to prevent the use of police firearms.
To maintain the skills necessary to handle high-risk situations, SWAT members train rigorously on a bi-weekly basis. Team members receive over 200 training hours annually with specialized firearms and equipment, less lethal options, physical fitness, building entry (to include explosive breaching), building clearing, active shooter training, counter sniper operations, and chemical dispersion. Many SWAT members hold instructor ratings in various disciplines and provide instruction to assist HCPD Range staff in training and qualifications of other Department members and law enforcement agencies.