My Life of Crime
“Boulder police,” came a shout from outside the building.
I nestled the muzzle of my Sig against the back of the head of my female hostage. “Nobody come near the building or I’ll start killing hostages,” I shouted. Two other hostages cowered in the semi-darkness on a bench in what had once been a storage room of a now deserted swim and tennis club.
I hunched behind my hostage watching the locked door in front of me. I tossed an empty soda can into what had once been a kitchen. The can hit broken glass and metal and gave off a sound like a gunshot.
The door burst open and three SWAT members charged through the door and shot me in the head.
This was what happened on Thursday last week when I was a role player for a training exercise with our local police SWAT. I had the opportunity to role play the hostage taker.
In debriefing afterwards, I learned that the SWAT members are trained to negotiate in a hostage situation unless they think shots have been fired. After Columbine, law enforcement tactics changed dramatically. When I threw the soda can, the SWAT members outside the door thought I had shot a hostage. Their response was to immediately crash through the door to take out the shooter before any more hostages died.
Then we continued the scenario to help train the hostage negotiators. They provided a throw phone (a telephone on a cable so that the negotiator could communicate with me). The negotiator wanted to know what was happening. I said to go away and slammed down the phone. In a few seconds the phone rang again, and he began sounding me out on what I was doing. I said I had been fired and was holding employees hostage who I blamed for my situation. I spoke for a few moments, became angry and hung up. We continued the conversation it bits and pieces until I once again became angry. He kept calling me back and re-engaging. Next, I said I was hungry and wanted a pizza. After several conversations, he agreed to provide a pizza if I released a hostage. I said I wouldn’t agree to that but would consider it if I had a pizza. After a pizza was provided, I said I would definitely release a hostage if a car was provided so I could go up in the mountains. After further negotiations, I agreed to walk to the door with a hostage and if I saw the car where it was supposed to be, I’d release the hostage. I did this and immediately was shot by a sniper.
We continued the scenario with me taking the two remaining hostages out to the car. Again, a sniper took me out.I was extremely impressed with the effectiveness of the SWAT response. I can assure you, you don’t want to mess with these people. It’s comforting to know we have this type of response available in our community for hostage situations. As well as assisting the police in a training exercise, this helped me immensely as a mystery writer in understanding the dynamics of a hostage situation and how SWAT operates.