FBI selects first Black woman to join a bureau SWAT team

An agent, who has been identified as Tai in a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) press release, began a 10-week training in late July that prepares selectees for SWAT field operations. SWAT stands for special weapons and tactics, which is a part of the FBI’s team.

Tai will be learning how to “safety enter rooms and effectively handle SWAT firearms,” the press release stated. The release said Tai is “believed to be [the] first Black woman selected for FBI SWAT.” While the agent, whose last name has been withheld, will be making history.  Tai will be joined by four other special agents chosen to do the training. Prior to joining the FBI four years ago, she was a deputy in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Florida. She decided to make the switch to the federal law enforcement agency after seeing their quick response to the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub.

The attack on the nightclub left 49 people dead and 53 injured and marked the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ+ community in U.S. history.

“The amount of assets and the professional attitude of agents,” the agent said, describing the team’s response. “They were organized, and they got stuff done.”

Tai is also a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve and one of her fellow Army Reserve officers told her that she would be a good FBI agent. She took the advice, applied and was assigned to the San Juan location in 2017. The 10-week course that Tai is in, called the New Operator Training School or NOTS, prepares SWAT selectees for operations. This includes sharpening the agents’ proficiencies in things like firearms and body movements, as well as their decision-making in times of heightened stress.

Once the agent passes, they re-join their field as a probationary member and waited for six to 18 months as they continued to gain experience. Once the probationary period ends, they attend another 3-week training at the FBI Training Academy in Virginia. Before they’re officially certified by the Critical Incident Response Group. This group oversees all FBI SWAT operations.

The 10-week course that Tai is in, called the New Operator Training School or NOTS, prepares SWAT selectees. This includes sharpening the agents’ proficiencies in things like firearms and body movements. After the agent passes, they re-join their field as a probationary member and wait for 6 to 18 months and continued to gain experience. Once the probationary period ends, they attend another 3-week training at the FBI Training Academy in Virginia. Before they’re officially certified by the Critical Incident Response Group. This group oversees all FBI SWAT operations.

“Hopefully somebody will see that I was able to do it,” said Tai, who is a long ways from being eligible for certification. “I’m not the biggest person. I’m not as strong as some of these guys. But as long as you have perseverance—because it does get really tough—you push through it and keep going.”

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