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Gathering accurate information.
KR: When we started we had no idea of what kind of injuries were involved in the situation. We didn’t even know, at first, how many people were in there working when the event began. Maybe, there are more people in there. You have to understand that the tower was built for a reason. It was built for security. So, to even force an entrance, although our guys are capable of it, was going to be very difficult.
Many factors had to be taken into account. It was unknown exactly how much ammunition and what type of weapons were in there. There was a generic list that was typically done tower to tower, but we had to figure out how they got in there.
To do that, people had to interview the different officers that they’d overpowered and determine how it played out from point A to point B and all the way to Z. That took a while.
JB: So was that just on the first day or was that ongoing?
KR: It was an ongoing thing, and we kept at it. There were a lot of rumors, a lot of speculation at first. You need to get the facts straight and it took some time. I can’t say exactly how long.
Organizing the team
During the course of the hostage incident, 16 law enforcement agencies contributed personnel, including 30 negotiators (10 of whom conducted negotiations). Additionally, 230 Department of Public Safety and 100 Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office personnel and approximately 100 FBI agents were assigned to the crisis.
JB: So as it began, gathering information, everyone is trying to sort out how things are…who’s doing what. And then there seemed to be a lot of new people always arriving, right?
KR: New people were arriving all the time. Each of our command guys are used to being in charge of the situation. We had to get the command structure clear and that takes a while. Then there were meetings that went on, very lengthy, a lot of different people. And then there was the political aspect that needed to be taken care of by the Governor’s personnel and before they made decisions they needed to be approved by whomever and so there was a lot of private communication.
JB: When that’s all going on, how do you get updated?
KR: In the beginning, we were involved in a lot of the meetings, but it wasn’t very successful because not a lot was being accomplished. So what we decided was to have one person from negotiations to attend these meetings. The DOC wanted to know after each conversation what was going on so we added a representative from the DOC. Officers next door were provided with a speaker to listen. So slowly, there was some organization building up.
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Copyright © 2004, John D. Baker
Copyright © 2004, The Negotiator Magazine