SAPD requires an officer to serve on the force for three years before they can be considered for the SWAT team.
The test is not based only on the physical ability, SWAT team members say maturity, dedication, and persistence are just some of the traits a candidate should exhibit for the team to be confident in a tactical response situation.
Our own Connie Gonzalez decided to take on the challenge, she laced up her tennis shoes and took on this new mile-long course to get an idea of what trainees are faced with.
They call themselves the "one percenters", apparently it's difficult to make the SAPD SWAT team.
The SAPD recently acquired a new and far more challenging obstacle course to be included in the four-step tryout process for prospective SWAT team members.
"The people coming out here think they can make, so think about those standards," SAPD Lt. Mike Hernandez said.
Hernandez says 50 perfect of the officers that tryout...fail. Detective Craig Thomason says he thought he had what it takes to make the team when he first tried out.
"It didn't go as planned. I was young, and I failed."
Thomason is the only candidate who made it successfully through this last tryout process. The key, you can't stop.
"Tasting that does of failure, that one time was all it took for me. I came back every time, I tried every time, I gave it my all and I worked to become where I am today," Thomason said.
As the newest member of the SWAT team, Thomason says he lacked maturity when he failed, but now his persistence proves to the other twelve members he will without question have their backs.
"It's a brotherhood, and we all gain from each other," Thomason said.
Tryout are held once a year. Prospective SWAT team members initially go through a physical training assessment, including a mile and a half run. Soon after, they take on the mile long obstacle course, then, tested at the shooting range.
Typically, Hernandez says only three individuals take on the challenge.
"The best of the best don't need to talk about it, they're going to show us," Hernandez said.
Assuming you passed the previous tests, the final evaluation is an oral board interview made up of existing SWAT team members.
"When those guys make the team they truly are the best of the best. I believe we probably are the best small department SWAT team in the state," Hernandez said.
Hernandez says SWAT members are not the best in any one situation, but an overall complete officer.
"The reason those guys have to do well in every aspect of what we ask [is] because when we go through a door we know what we're getting into," Hernandez said.