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Bob Parker

Bob Parker

Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Domestic Hostage Barricade: What Would You Do?

How would you handle this hostage barricade situation?

May 09, 2012  |  by Bob Parker - Also by this author

With this SWAT blog, we're presenting a scenario for your consideration. We'd like to know how you would handle it, so please add your comments below.

The scenario is based on an incident from 2010. In the next post, we'll give you the actual outcome. OK, here's the set up:

At 10 a.m. on a Friday, dispatchers receive a 911 call from a female stating that her ex-boyfriend was attempting to kick in her front door. He had driven from another state to retrieve an engagement ring. Sheriff's deputies arrive at the suburban residence at approximately 10:22 a.m. They're met at the front of the residence by a female friend of the caller.

She tells the deputies that the suspect—a 47-year-old white male—had taken the caller (now victim) to the master bedroom at the rear of the house. She also tells them that he was armed with a 9mm handgun. There had been no indication in the initial 911 call that the suspect was armed.

At about this time, the deputies hear a woman screaming from inside the residence; the victim is still on the phone with 911 dispatchers. Deputies make a controlled entry into the front of the house with no supervisors present.

At this point, no shots have been fired, and the deputies have heard no overt threats from the suspect. They believe the suspect and hostage have migrated to the bathroom in the master bedroom.

The deputies then discussed how to proceed. Several of the more senior officers suggest calling SWAT, while the suspect is barricaded in the house. One deputy states that he believes the female hostage is in imminent danger and advocates driving further into the house to the master bedroom and bath.

At this time, the deputies have been at the scene for no more than three minutes. No attempt is made to contact a supervisor although one or more are on the way. What would you do? Go into the breach or contain, control, and call SWAT?

Bob Parker is the Patrol Section chair for the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA).

Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

MTarte @ 5/9/2012 7:41 PM

You make contact. You contact the supervisor, form a plan with the other deputies to contain the badguy and, if necessary, take action to rescue the hostage. Of course having negotiators and tact team present would be nice, but what is the response time? Minutes, hours? Columbine taught us what traditional thinking and training results in. Many of us have handled similar calls as this one and ended them successfully without a tactical call out.

DEADMAN @ 5/10/2012 5:42 PM

I think MTartes' response is the correct one,you're working on time constraints also, it could escalate.Make a plan and carry it out.

GBush @ 5/10/2012 5:43 PM

Once inside the residence, the Deputies should not give up ground. They should obtain the possible status of the victim from communications. If communications reply they don't hear the victim any longer, then the Deputies must conclude that the victim's life is compromised. The Deputies should request additional Units for containment and at least one rescue ambulance. The Deputies must push forward for contact with the suspect and advise communication same.

Mike @ 5/10/2012 6:09 PM

Containment of the residence is first & foremost. I think it's important to remember that there is no real cover inside most homes, even from a 9mm, so staying in the house is risky. Attempt to make contact with the suspect and try to start a dialogue but get SWAT & ENT enroute. If the situation resolves itself before they arrive then great. The biggest risk of being inside the house is pushing the suspect into causing the hostage harm or forcing a lethal force encounter. Time is on our side in this situation. This is not an active shooter scenario and should not be treated as such.

Eric @ 5/10/2012 6:31 PM

SWAT and negotiators should be called immediately. Hostage situations can last for hours. The deputies should take and hold as much ground as possible without compromising their position. You want to be as close as possible for fast reaction when necessary. The rest of the structure should be cleared for threats or additional victims if possible.
One deputy should start a dialog with the suspect as most of these situations are resolved through negotiations. This will also make the suspect realize his choices are now limited and further action is futile.
Additional personnel should try to covertly get a view through the bathroom window and if possible line up a life saving shot on the suspect.
If shots are heard or the victim is stating she is being injured, the deputies have to be prepared to rescue the victim and nuetralize the threat.

Greg @ 5/10/2012 6:51 PM

Mike is right, the first thing is set up a secure perimeter. Two reasons: First is to prevent escape. Second is intelligence. I can't count the times when an officer on the perimeter saw something that was critical to the operation. They are important eyes for the IC. As this is being done, I would do two things: ensure the proper notifications have been made and SWAT and negotiatiors were enroute. Then I would assign someone to set up an emergency rescue team in case things went sideways they could take immediate action. While that was being done I would contact the suspect and start negotiations. A lot of moving parts and you do need to practice them as a watch. Some great remarks on this post though. Stay safe.

doubles @ 5/10/2012 9:22 PM

Clearly the victim is at great risk. Retreating from the house to simply contain would not allow you to accurately assess when that risk suddenly increases and immediate intervention is necesarry. if you have already successfully entered the home, hold that position, start your contain from there, formulate an immediate action plan to enter if needed and attempt to make verbal contact to de-escalate the situation. ask for swat etc., but waiting for them outside while you wonder what's happening inside is not a legitimate option.

Charlie @ 5/11/2012 8:26 AM

I agree with most of the posters on this, you have no choice but to, at a minimum, maintain the groud you have gained. First priority is to establish contact with the suspect, preferrably by phone if possible (less likely to give away your position, and the person talking to him can remain outside where safety is less of a concern). Get SWAT and the negotiators enroute, but don't wait on them to formulate a plan. No, this isn't an active shooter, but the old saying "time is on our side" is simply a polite way of saying "if he kills the hostage and then kills himself we don't have to worry about a cop getting hurt". This isn't a bank robber, this is a domestic situation gone bad, and the motivation to kill or injure the hostage is much different. Situations like these are why it is a great idea for departments to have ballistic shields or blankets available to their patrol officers, and to train them on room clearing.

Rich @ 5/12/2012 6:52 AM

The situation here is a world apart depending on the size of the department. We would be lucky if we had 2 officers available to maintain a perimeter while the 2 officers inside handled the suspect and victim. SWAT would be 1-2 hours away. The officers on scene should make sure the supervisor has contacted SWAT, but waiting for them is not an option. Contact should be made as soon as possible by the officers inside, maintaining as much cover and concealment as possible, with the limited resources. The 2 inside should quickly formulate a plan, and act on it ASAP. Unfortunately training for situations like this are impossible, since our training budget has been nonexistant for 10 years.

Brian @ 5/13/2012 6:38 PM

Containment, Long Rifle, and React. Thats what you focus on until you can start dialog with the suspect and victim. Good containment of the suspect and hostage are obvious. Long Rifle if you can get a view of the suspect for a critical shot. This can be accomplished with a standard AR-15 and a competent shooter. The distances we usually face in law enforcement are not what our military typically faces. REACT team to make entry into the suspect/hostage room for a rescue if shots are fired by the suspect toward the hostage or the hostage is harmed in any way. Getting a supervisor there to take over as the incident commander until SWAT and HNT respond. You also need to get enough personnel to start an evacuation plan for surrounding residences. This should be done prior to SWAT arriving if the suspect is contained and threat to evacuating public is minimal.

Tbow426 @ 5/30/2012 7:17 AM

Seems like a lot of people are confusing this with an active shooter situation. The shooter has one person in a bathroom which means the shooter and hostage are almost within arms reach of each other. If he wants to kill her he will. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent it unless he presents himself for a shot from a rifle. I agree about not giving up ground, but there are very few things in a house that provide true cover. Handgn rounds punch through with no problem. Slow down and talk if he will do so. If he is talking...he ain't shooting. It will take SWAT two hours to get there. OK, so do you have a hot date or what? What is the big deal about 2 hours or 8 hours? If he is not shooting then talk. Do you really want to be the one to rush in? If bullets start flying down a hallway there is very little room to unass the area.

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