CBS4 gets rare inside access on how local SWAT teams operate

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The name itself carries a connotation that everyone knows…SWAT. It stands for special weapons and tactics.

When the SWAT team gets called, you know it’s a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.

There is no more highly trained or accomplished SWAT team than the operators who serve with the FBI. There are 56 FBI SWAT teams across the country, one for every FBI district.

CBS4 was granted unprecedented access to a demonstration by the team in the Indianapolis division. It’s one of the busiest teams in the country.

"I think in a lot of ways, I don't want to take anything away from those who aren't SWAT, but it allows you to really push yourself," said the team leader.

We were not allowed to use their names, many of them hid their faces because they’re involved in ongoing investigations. But, these Indiana operators allowed us a brief glimpse into how they work to protect innocent lives, including their own.

"It sounds trite, but you're trusting the person next to you with your life," said a team member.

The team demonstrated tactics in the shoot house of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. That’s where the team hones the tactics that they say saves more lives than it takes.

"We want to arrive with such overwhelming force that the subject doesn't consider resisting all. That way, it removes the element where we have to decide if we have to apply some sort of force to the subject.”

SWAT teams and their tactics have not been immune to controversy. Some question the military nature of the team and whether the aggressive way they operate sends a message that’s often misunderstood. But, SWAT team leaders say only through strength can they ensure safety.

"If I use the SWAT team, I know I'm going to be able to keep everyone much safer.  The witness involved, the victims they may encounter and the special agents who have the cases." "It's not the militarization of the police,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Abbott.

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