The Tactical Operations Unit (TOU) is Escondido Police Department's SWAT unit. It is comprised of officers and detectives as a collateral assignment. The officers receive extensive training in special weapons and equipment, tactics, and physical conditioning. They may be called to respond to situations requiring more expertise or specialized equipment than the regular patrol officers. The team was established in 1990, and handles about 24 missions each year. The missions range from dignitary protection, to high-risk search and arrest warrants, to barricaded suspects with hostages.
The team is commanded by a lieutenant, and there are three sergeants who serve as team leaders. There are 17 officers assigned to the team, and one officer who serves as an armorer and vehicle driver. The Escondido Fire Department paramedics provide medical support for the officers, suspects, or hostages who may be injured during a tactical incident. There are seven paramedics who train with the TOU in order that they function well together during a critical incident.
In order to be considered for such a collateral assignment, an officer must pass his or her probationary status with Escondido Police Department. This is 18 months, unless the employee is a lateral transfer from another police agency, in which case it is 12 months. The candidate must have at least two years experience as a police officer. The candidate must pass a physical qualifications test, which includes a 2-mile run in under 16 minutes, 50 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and 5 pull-ups. These are all consecutively performed. The candidates must also demonstrate proficiency with their firearms. After that, an interview and peer evaluation are factored in. Candidates who possess qualities such as maturity, decision-making ability, and who work well in a team environment will be prime contenders for the position.