The MPD is changing the color of the uniforms worn by its SWAT team. We are not eliminating any necessary equipment, only changing its color. This is being done to address public perception of a militarized look; this is not the perception the MPD wants the community to have about the MPD or the SWAT team. Understandably, the equipment which the SWAT team carries is tactical in appearance and necessary for their job, so changing the color alone may not fully change perception. Our SWAT team, like most in our area and nationally, has specialized protective gear and clothing necessary for their highly specialized duties. Much of this equipment has traditionally been Military OD Green or camouflage in color; similarly colored clothing is worn by our military and is readily available commercially. Recently, there has been concern voiced by the community, especially at a national level, about the militarized look of SWAT teams, largely based on the military green color of the SWAT uniforms and gear. The MPD SWAT team is not a military unit nor is the team trained by the military. To that end, the MPD feels these concerns and perceptions should be addressed, therefore, the MPD SWAT Team will be transitioning our clothing and equipment from the military green color to traditional tactical police colors of dark blue/black.
Changing the color of clothing and equipment worn by our SWAT team to a dark navy blue is more consistent with “traditional” police uniform and equipment colors. This small step demonstrates the MPD’s willingness to proactively address public concerns in a manner that continues to protect our officers, but also works to improve the perception of our department by the public.
Residents and visitors to Minneapolis will notice this change in the coming months, as the uniforms and equipment arrive. It will be ordered immediately. Some of the equipment will be transitioned in as it is replaced through its normal lifecycle which could take place over the next 2-3 years. We want members of the public to be aware of this change so they will recognize the men and women in dark blue as police officers, not military members, if and when they see them.
The Minneapolis Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT team) is comprised of a group of MPD officers who all have specialized training and equipment to deal with virtually any threat. This is a collateral assignment, meaning that with the exception of a few, these officers have regular full-time duties working primarily as patrol officers and sergeants in our police precincts. When a situation arises which requires a special response, SWAT officers are called in from their assignment or from home to assist. Typically, the SWAT team is called upon when an incident arises that is beyond the ability of regular officers to handle safely and when the risks to the public are especially high. The SWAT team is comprised of four tactical and specialized teams: Entry, Gas/Munitions, Communications/Logistics, and Rifle. In addition, there are non-tactical components including the crisis negotiation team and the technical support team.
It is necessary to provide all SWAT Team members with special equipment which allows them to work in a manner which protects both the public and the officers themselves.