The Negotiator Magazine

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The Department of Corrections had a policy that there are no negotiations with hostage takers. As a result, its personnel did not join other law enforcement agencies in practice negotiations exercises. Nevertheless, the negotiations had begun.

Tactical Action …

Five tactical unit snipers were in place by 7:45 am. The Tactical Rules of Engagement for the Double Hostage Situation were as follows:

  1. Both inmates on roof, 100% positive identification, clear shot: Green light, shoot to kill.
  2. One inmate with both hostages on roof, 100% positive identification, clear shot: Green light, shoot to kill.
  3. Inmate, 100% positive identification, appears with lethal force directed at hostage(s): Green light, shoot to kill.
  4. Inmate appears with lethal force, non-threatening: Red light, do not shoot.
  5. Inmate appears on roof with one hostage: Red light, do not shoot.

In options 2 and 3, activation will also initiate the assault ….

Both Colonel Norm Beasley of the Department of Public Safety and Assistant Chief Jesse Locksa of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the lead commanders of the tactical operation teams, testified before the Governor’s Commission on this incident. Colonel Beasley concluded that: “There was never an opportunity to tactically resolve this situation through sniper fire.”

Resource Call …

JB (John Baker): You are basically on call, is that right?

KR (Kip Rustenburg): That’s correct. I get paged. On Sunday morning, I got a page. Our dispatchers contacted my lieutenant in charge of negotiations and he called from a list of people. He called me first. “This is the real thing,” he said.

He told me that inmates had barricaded the prison tower. I threw something on, I didn’t even shower, which was a mistake after being there for the first 36 hours. There was no way I expected it to go 15 days. I thought it would be a few-hours and I’d be home. Anyways, I wanted to be there first.

JB: That was very early in the morning?

KR: Very early, I think it was before 7:00. I think I got out there around 8:00 o’clock.

JB: Now when he told you it was ‘the real thing,’ that’s really all you knew until you got there, right?

KR: Yes, that there were two officers being held, and that’s all the information I was given, very basic. So, I went to my car and went there as fast as I could get there. The prison was way out in the middle of nowhere.

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