[Guide] Hostage Response

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Jack Wade

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This guide is not intended to be an official Standard Operating Procedure, and I am in no way affiliated with the Monolith Police Department. This guide is a primer for dealing with hostage scenarios and is good food for thought for players who enjoy RPing as police.

I've been in quite a few RP situations where hostages were involved and the police response turned into a shit show almost immediately. Within seconds, windows are peppered by bullets, helpless hostages are caught in a crossfire and often killed in a shootout that could probably have been avoided. After the shell casings are swept up and the bodies are sent to the morgue, cops and robbers have to go to a far away rooftop to discuss with the admins about what went wrong and why nobody attempted any sort of RP before the impromptu Team Deathmatch started. This guide is a very basic primer on hostage response from a tactical perspective.

IMPORTANT CONCEPTS/TERMINOLOGY FOR A HOSTAGE SITUATION
Calculated Response:
Police are in control of many variables during a hostage scenario. Negotiations typically take time, during which the Incident Commander and Tactical Response Team members are able to stage their resources and come up with plans for how to bring the situation to the best resolution possible. Instead of running in reactively, police will use a calculated response.
Incident Commander:
The individual who is designated to be in charge of the hostage situation. Typically the highest-ranking person on scene or tactical commander serves as the Incident Commander.
Tactical Response Team Commander: The highest-ranking member of the tactical unit is the Tactical Response Team Commander.
Tango:
A hostage taker is a tango.
Charlie: A hostage is a charlie.
Breach Authority: At any point in time, the Incident Commander may order the tactical unit to breach the area where the hostages are and engage with the tangos. This order is typically given when other options aren't available (i.e when negotiations are severed.) Sending in any type of lethal-force team is considered the last and final option.
Compromised Authority: The Incident Commander may grant others compromised authority, also known as compromised breach authority, which gives that person limited breach authority in the event that loss of life becomes imminent. The most common person to have compromised authority is the hostage negotiator, who usually has a more intimate knowledge of the situation and can see what is going on in the hostage area at any given time. Should a negotiator have compromised authority and see a tango actively trying to kill a charlie, the negotiator can use a hand gesture to signal the entry team. At that time, the entry team leader must quickly decide whether to breach or continue to standby. Injuring, threatening, raping, or otherwise harming hostages does NOT constitute compromised authority. The tango must be actively attempting to murder a charlie.
Runner: A designated person who is in charge of retrieving items during the hostage situation, such as food items or demand items that have been approved by the Incident Commander.
Preparatory Command: Once breach authority has been granted to the tactical unit, the Tactical Response Team Commander will advise the entry team/tactical units to be ready by using a preparatory command. Such command may be something like, "Tac Two, Tac One, I have command." This advises the entry team leader (Tac Two) that the Tactical Response Team Commander (Tac One) has been given a green-light to breach, and that the next radio command will be to execute a breach and secure the hostages. This is a very important radio command, because it ensures that the tactical units are prepared to engage swiftly and simultaneously.

DELIVERIES
During the hostage situation, hostage takers will typically give the negotiators several demands. Food, water, money, a helicopter...it is up to the Incident Commander to decide how to deal with demands and what to give or not to give to the tangos. A runner is then dispatched to retrieve the items and give them to the delivery team. In many scenarios, the entry team is also the delivery team. It is important that tactical units deliver the items and not the negotiators, so that the tangos cannot attack or try to grab a negotiator at the doorway and have another hostage.
DELIVERY EXAMPLE: John, a tango, has requested a red ink pen and five sheets of paper. The tac unit has been given these items. I'm not a negotiator, so I have no idea how negotiators talk. There's a pretty intricate art to it, actually. I've only seen it done a few times in practice scenarios.
NEGOTIATOR: John, it's Susan. I have the red pen and five sheets of paper you requested.
JOHN: Bring it in here, or I'm going to kill every last one of these people.
NEGOTIATOR: John, the SWAT team is going to deliver them to you. I'm going to have four SWAT members come to the door. They are going to set the items down two feet from the door, knock three times, and move back. Count to four and then you can get the items.
The negotiator makes sure that John understands the plan, and that there are no surprises. Four SWAT. Two feet from door. Three knocks. Count to four. Get the items. It is important that the delivery team follows these directions precisely. Upon approach, the shield member will block the doorway. The second member in the stack will grab on to the shield man's vest and reach around him and set the items two feet from the door and then knock three times. The delivery team then moves back six to eight feet from the doorway. UNLESS BREACH AUTHORITY IS GRANTED, THE TACTICAL UNIT IS NOT TO ENGAGE WITH THE TANGO WHEN THEY COME OUT FOR THE ITEM - THERE COULD BE ANOTHER TANGO INSIDE THAT MAY RETALIATE BY ATTACKING HOSTAGES. WHEN DEALING WITH UNKNOWN VARIABLES, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH A SENSE OF TRUST BETWEEN THE TANGOS AND THE NEGOTIATOR.


DEALING WITH HOSTAGES
Also related to unknown variables, all persons involved in a hostage scenario are to be treated as a potential tango. Police officers should be educated that if they are taken hostage, they must surrender and comply with the tactical unit's commands if they do breach. Tangos are well-known to disguise themselves as charlies or police to attempt to thwart the tactical unit. Furthermore, a person's job title has zero bearing on their status as a hostage, at least from a tactical perspective. The Mayor, a police lieutenant, and a taxi driver are all of equal status when held hostage.
For example, the Police Chief is taken hostage. The Chief then states that he is the highest ranking member of the department, and that everyone must stand down and clear the way so that the hostage takers can escape or else he will be killed. Because the Chief is held hostage, he is no longer in any position of authority and cannot make any commands. Also, Stockholm Syndrome is a very real condition in which hostages will begin to sympathize with their captors, even to the point of corroborating with them.

SURRENDER
The ideal resolution to any hostage scenario is for the hostage takers to agree to release the hostages and turn themselves in. Sending a tactical unit in to secure the situation skyrockets the risk for serious injury or loss of life for all parties involved, especially hostages who will be caught in a crossfire. Once tangos have agreed to release all hostages and surrender, the negotiator will ensure that everyone understands the surrender procedure. The first hostage will be instructed to walk backwards through the doorway. The tactical unit will issue them verbal commands to continue walking backwards and to not make any sudden movements or turn towards the tactical unit. Once they are an appropriate distance from the doorway, they will be instructed to get on the ground and will be restrained and removed from the area. In an RP scenario, the Incident Commander may designate a staging area for detained persons or even place them inside a SWAT vehicle or bus. This process is repeated until all hostages and tangos have been secured. After all known persons have been secured, the tactical unit will enter and clear the building and report back to the Tactical Response Team Commander once the area is secure.

FUN FACTS AND ADDITIONAL INFO:
Hostage scenarios have a massive amount of people poring over painstakingly small details. Secure locations such as governmental buildings, banks, and correctional facilities will have master files of floorplans and blueprints. A new trend is a 360-degree panoramic camera that is used to periodically take pictures of every room so that the floor's layout (windows, doors, vents, tables, etc) can be thoroughly analyzed for any and all tactical advantages. Knowing which way a door opens or how many feet a wall runs before hitting a corner is valuable information. As for use IC usage, it is well worth the police and tactical units to have a working knowledge of the map and buildings so that they can better plan for entry.
Hostage negotiators also rarely work alone. The lead negotiator will talk to the tangos, trying to figure out the number of tangos and charlies as well as trying to figure out their motives in order to come to an agreement. They also work very professionally to keep the tangos calm and patient. Behind them is a chain of other qualified negotiators of various backgrounds, all of which hold on to each other's belt so that they can't be snatched through a doorway. These additional negotiators will have notebooks and pens for taking notes on new information and passing up ideas and questions to the lead negotiator. It is literally like watching five or six minds work as one, and it is impressive as hell to see. During negotiations, the entry team should be ready to protect the hostage negotiators if a tango tries to attack or grab them.
Also, there is always a command center with chairs for various groups and departments. One thing I find interesting is that in addition to the PR/media people, they have someone who watches various news channels and social media to see the news coverage. If there is a TV where the hostages are, you can bet that the tangos are watching the same news feed as well. If good old Fox channel 3 evening news is showing live coverage of your sniper team setting up on the building across the street, there's a safe bet the tangos are watching this and reacting accordingly.
The entry team is usually stacked right on the doorway where the negotiators are talking to the tangos. Typically, hostage takers like to block off all the windows and access points so that they can conceal what's going on in the area. Taping newspapers over windows is not unheard of. That's why it is important to have knowledge of the place where hostages have been taken. If a drop phone is deployed, it is usually bugged with a camera and/or a microphone and is thrown into the room where in a way that police can get a look at the tangos when they retrieve it.

Last but not least, common sense - the entry team should be on the side of the door where the door opens. It would be an awful oversight if the door swung open and blocked the entry team while the tangos started stabbing the lead negotiator. Also, next time you happen across a very security-minded place, take a look at which way the doors open. A lot of the time, those design ideas are not by accident.
 
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DangerZone640

Monolith Grinder
Really good guide, many people arent particularly good at hostage situations and I a sure this will help them out.
 
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gm1003

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Very useful, there’s been more hostage situations over the last few days so I’m definitely going to have this thread open on my phone while I play as SWAT Commander

I just have one request, could you elaborate on the breach process? I know that surrender is the ideal result but what if shit hits the fan and the tangos try to kill the hostages? To my knowledge, flashbanging the room and charging with a riot shield with SWAT officers using the pointman as cover is the best breach method to secure the hostages

Also, what if the room has no windows and only one or two points of entry?
 
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Bob King

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Jun 30, 2017
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Useful guide, after the passed few hostage situations that I've done it was usually the officers themself that killed the hostage (thinking it was one of hostage takers) lets just hope that will stop and they notice this guide.
 

Jason Richards

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Poland
Hostage Situation Monolith Way:
1. Get Shotgun
2. Rush in killing everyone in room with hostage
3. GOOD JOB YOU KILLED SUSPECT AND HOSTAGE!
 

Jack Wade

New Member
Dec 8, 2017
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Very useful, there’s been more hostage situations over the last few days so I’m definitely going to have this thread open on my phone while I play as SWAT Commander

I just have one request, could you elaborate on the breach process? I know that surrender is the ideal result but what if shit hits the fan and the tangos try to kill the hostages? To my knowledge, flashbanging the room and charging with a riot shield with SWAT officers using the pointman as cover is the best breach method to secure the hostages

Also, what if the room has no windows and only one or two points of entry?
I've been off of the forums lately (bluescreened my PC) but now I'm back!
I will try to update my guide a little bit more with some breaching information, but what you've stated is essentially the way it is done. Distraction devices such as flashbangs and/or chemical agents such as tear gas/triple chasers will be deployed and the tactical unit will almost instantaneously enter the room. Hostage rescue teams have breaching choreographed to an art form, and these techniques are instructed at the FBI SWAT school. While this may seem like common sense, it is VERY important that the first member of the stack (or possibly second, if the first is a dedicated shield) is able to quickly recognize the most clear and present threat and engage them. In a true oh-my-God-this-is-it breach moment, the entry team can be moving fast enough that the flashbangs will actually be going off at their feet during entry. Dedicated hostage rescue teams are specifically trained to shoot targets quickly and accurately while distraction devices and chemical/smoke agents are going off around them.

For the second part, tangos will do everything in their power to stop any rescue attempt. They will cover up windows and try to block off doorways, making it very hard for those on the outside to figure out what is going on inside the room and to make any breach attempt more difficult. On the technology side of things, there are drop phones (wireless phones that can be thrown through a doorway) that may be bugged with cameras or recording devices. Also, there are different types of cameras designed to be used under doorways and through vent systems. This type of situation is also why it is important for the hostage negotiators to get some form of trust with the tangos, and to try and ask questions that may indicate the number and identities of those inside. Tangos don't want us to know what is going on in there, and it is our job to figure it out so we know how to safely bring the hostage situation to an end with hopefully no loss of life.
If there are no windows and only one or possibly two entry points, the rescuers will have to come up with as much information as they can and figure out a way to have the entry team through said entry in a matter of seconds when the time comes. The odds don't really favor the rescuers' goal of everyone making it out alright, and it is a pretty ugly situation. That is why there are so many highly-trained people involved, so that they can have a shot at overcoming those odds.
 
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Dann

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Nice guide, keep it up