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Many police departments maintain a Special Weapons and Tactics or SWAT team to respond to particularly dangerous situations. SWAT team members come from the ranks of police departments and draw salaries as police, although some large police departments have dedicated SWAT teams. SWAT members receive extra training and may be compensated through overtime pay when duty call for extra hours.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median police officer income in 2008 was $51,000, jumping to $75,000 for police detectives. Eighty percent of police officers made between $30,000 and $79,000. Experience and rank, as well as location, are the main factors influencing police pay. Each department sets its own pay scale, as regulated by the municipality it serves. Police usually receive hourly pay and overtime pay of 1 1/2 times base pay.
SWAT team members can receive supplemental pay for being part of the team (for example, the San Antonio Police Department gives on-call SWAT team members $157 a month), but they do not receive a separate SWAT team salary. However, duties on the SWAT team mean that members are more likely to clock lucrative overtime, receive at least 20 hours of extra paid training each month and special consideration for promotions and raises, as SWAT membership generally reflects positively on an officer's record and performance. Monster.com reports that SWAT team members make $61,000 annually on average, higher than the average for police officers.
As full-time police officers, SWAT team members receive health and life insurance, as well as worker's compensation pay if injured. Police officers also have annual paid vacations and sick leave. The BLS reports that most officers have the option to retire on half of their base pay after 20 years of service as a type of pension plan.
Officers become eligible for SWAT membership after completing all basic training in their department, which can take from six months to three years. SWAT team members must train constantly, according to Monster.com, especially in the use of firearms and other lethal and nonlethal weaponry. SWAT members must maintain higher fitness and performance standards than other officers to stay on the team.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition: Police and Detectives
- Monster.com: Career Profile: SWAT Team
- Prenhall: SWAT Team Officer
- Police Employment: A Day in the Life of a SWAT Team Member
- Degree Directory: What Is the Salary of a SWAT Team Member?
- San Antonio Police Department: Salary and Benefits; November 2008
Calla Hummel is a doctoral student studying contraband in international political economy. She supplements her student stipend by writing about personal finance and working as a consultant, as well as hoping that her investments will pan out.