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Oldbrasscat
10-10-2012, 12:24 AM
I just wanted to double check. I have a character, who is a marksman for a SWAT team. He is called out to a hostage situation, gets set up in his position and after he is there, and only as the situation is escalating, does he realise that one of the hostages is his significan other. He knows his SO works in the building that the situation is happening in, but does not work in that room.

I guess it's two questions:
1. Would it be possible for him to end up in position without knowing the identity of the hostages?
2. How much, if any, trouble would he be in for staying in position and doing his job?

I was in emergency medicine and, if we called called out to something and it turned out to be a friend or a relative, we generally just did our job. But I got to wonder how well that translates across other emergency services and thought I'd better check. Dr. Google isn`t being very helpful on this one and we don't have a real SWAT where I live now.

Little Red Barn
10-10-2012, 01:19 AM
I just wanted to double check. I have a character, who is a marksman for a SWAT team. He is called out to a hostage situation, gets set up in his position and after he is there, and only as the situation is escalating, does he realise that one of the hostages is his significan other. He knows his SO works in the building that the situation is happening in, but does not work in that room.

I guess it's two questions:
1. Would it be possible for him to end up in position without knowing the identity of the hostages?
2. How much, if any, trouble would he be in for staying in position and doing his job?
.
Answer to question1: yes. He'll be given his position for the perimenter lay out, be notified of the matrix, but will likely know but just the basics of the situation upon arriving. e.g. perp is a white male, late 30s, etc. etc

2. He would immediately notify his first chain of command of a personal relationship with anyone in the hostage situation and then take direction from that command.

eta: It's abbreviated as S.W.A.T for Special Weapons And Tactics. =)

Drachen Jager
10-10-2012, 01:39 AM
I guess it's two questions:
1. Would it be possible for him to end up in position without knowing the identity of the hostages?
2. How much, if any, trouble would he be in for staying in position and doing his job?

1) Only possible if nobody up the chain of command knew his SO was involved. Considering how hostage takings go, that's not at all unlikely, they don't normally get the names of all the hostages out, and even if they did, it might not be connected to your guy.

2) Trouble would probably vary depending on the outcome. If he disobeyed orders and killed a hostage taker for instance he could well lose his job. Certainly there would be a disciplinary hearing in any case. If he acted appropriately in spite of his SO being involved he'd probably only get a slap on the wrist.

As with all cop questions, this one depends on the force in question and the officers involved. NYPD will have different rules from LAPD, state will have different rule from city or federal. Under some circumstances, his boss or teammates might even act to cover-up his indiscretion, it all depends on the environment.

John342
10-10-2012, 08:02 AM
I just wanted to double check. I have a character, who is a marksman for a SWAT team. He is called out to a hostage situation, gets set up in his position and after he is there, and only as the situation is escalating, does he realise that one of the hostages is his significan other. He knows his SO works in the building that the situation is happening in, but does not work in that room.

I guess it's two questions:
1. Would it be possible for him to end up in position without knowing the identity of the hostages? It is very likely that the identity of the hostages wouldn't be firmly known. Its not a priority in a hostage negotiation to find out who they're holding. The bad guys might say, but the police are mostly concerned with finding ways to talk them down.

2. How much, if any, trouble would he be in for staying in position and doing his job? If he knows or suspects (which could be easy as a look through his high power scope and seeing her, or identifying her through clothes or mannerisms) why tell anyone? Things are hectic enough, and removing yourself from a place where you might be able to save your significant other (a likely consequence of pointing this out) would not be something the average policeman would want.After it's over he can easily say, "Holy cow, that was my wife?" Who is to know?

I was in emergency medicine and, if we called called out to something and it turned out to be a friend or a relative, we generally just did our job. But I got to wonder how well that translates across other emergency services and thought I'd better check. Dr. Google isn`t being very helpful on this one and we don't have a real SWAT where I live now.

While I am the police (30+ years) I was never on a SWAT team. We had access to one and our dept always had one or two people on the regional team, I didn't really pick their brains. I will say they weren't any more perfect than the rest of us and were perfectly capable of lobbing a stun grenade and executing an arrest warrant for a violent felon at the wrong house. So I wouldn't attach robot like precision to them... they are much better tactically than the average officer, but they are still human.

Hope this helps,

John

Oldbrasscat
10-10-2012, 03:41 PM
OK, thanks everyone! This is about what I had thought would be the situation. Since he only sees his SO literally when the ground team is in place, and there's a gun being waved around, directly threatening the SO, I thought I could let it slide. I might have to reword things a bit, since there is a point where he notifies command that he has visual on one of the hostages, but I can make that work. Just up the tension a bit! Wheeee! Fun!

Thanks again everyone!

ironmikezero
10-10-2012, 11:00 PM
Your marksman (sniper/counter-sniper) would not be alone; he'd be accompanied by an observer with a spotting scope. Their primary mission is the acquisition of real time intelligence - what can they see and communicate to the tactical commander and hostage negotiator. The observer is usually a marksman as well, and completely understands what his partner needs to know minute by minute (wind, observable movement, concealment/cover, complications on the scene, etc.).

WeaselFire
10-11-2012, 12:36 AM
Echoes a short story from the 1970's (?), police sniper takes out the target while he holds the sniper's daughter as a shield. Can't for the life of me remember where I read it.

As for the real-life implications, it really depends on the situation. Very rarely will a sniper take a shot with hostages present and even more rare is having the SO of the sniper as a hostage. Possibly one in a hundred million (Never heard of it outside of fiction). So there's really no written protocol for this in any department's standard orders that I've ever seen.

On the flip side, I don't know if I've even heard of a textbook police/S.W.A.T. sniper situation. Every one is unique.

Jeff

rugcat
10-11-2012, 03:33 AM
On the flip side, I don't know if I've even heard of a textbook police/S.W.A.T. sniper situation. Every one is unique.
One of the standard questions asked in the SWAT interview where I worked was "If you don't have a green light for taking out the hostage taker, but you see him walk away from the hostages and you have a perfect shot, can't miss, and it won't endanger the hostages, would you take it?"

Anyone who answered yes did not make the cut.

John342
10-11-2012, 06:09 AM
One of the standard questions asked in the SWAT interview where I worked was "If you don't have a green light for taking out the hostage taker, but you see him walk away from the hostages and you have a perfect shot, can't miss, and it won't endanger the hostages, would you take it?"

Anyone who answered yes did not make the cut.

I always wondered about that kind of question to a SWAT guy. Clearly the right answer is no. So if he says yes, is he dumped because he's stupid?

Little Red Barn
10-12-2012, 11:32 PM
One of the standard questions asked in the SWAT interview where I worked was "If you don't have a green light for taking out the hostage taker, but you see him walk away from the hostages and you have a perfect shot, can't miss, and it won't endanger the hostages, would you take it?"

Anyone who answered yes did not make the cut.


I always wondered about that kind of question to a SWAT guy. Clearly the right answer is no. So if he says yes, is he dumped because he's stupid?

hubs was a sniper on S.W.A.T for over a decade. you must always go through the chain of command, because the hostage negotiating team's goal is to diffuse the situation peacefully. =)

only if the perp came out of the house wielding a gun and aimed at officers, the team etc., then all chain of command is disregarded and the sniper can take him/her out.

Oldbrasscat
10-13-2012, 05:53 PM
Great! So, except for the observer (and I might take some fictional liberty and not have one, if no one thinks it would be a deal breaker for the reader), I think I've dealt with this appropriately. I had the commanding officer give the ok for a shot, established that my MC is very good at this job and has a good track record with decision making and set the hostage taker up as having a history of emotional disturbance and behaviour issues, so likely to do something everyone would regret. The hostage taker isn't interested in talking; phone that ring are smashed.

Would they try to talk to him through the door? I didn't think so, but I've been doing so darn much reading for this that it's starting to blur a bit.

John342
10-13-2012, 05:57 PM
hubs was a sniper on S.W.A.T for over a decade. you must always go through the chain of command, because the hostage negotiating team's goal is to diffuse the situation peacefully. =)

only if the perp came out of the house wielding a gun and aimed at officers, the team etc., then all chain of command is disregarded and the sniper can take him/her out.

You missed my entire point. Even someone who isn't on the team (a line policeman) knows you follow the chain of command especially when you have a clear shot and no green light, so if you answer that question wrong you must be stupid because clearly you wanted to be a sniper and clearly you should know the right answer. So, the point is: the officer who can't think the question through is too stupid to be on the team.

Oldbrasscat
10-13-2012, 06:00 PM
I always wondered about that kind of question to a SWAT guy. Clearly the right answer is no. So if he says yes, is he dumped because he's stupid?
John, he's cut because he has the potential to think he is the one making the decision. Snipers don't make the call; the incident commander would, because he has all the information. The hostage might be walking away because he's thinking about giving up. The sniper doesn't know that and no one has the time to keep him up to date, so he needs to be able to sit there and do what he is told, no matter what he thinks is happening. There's no time during one of these operations for anyone who can't live with a 'need to know' environment. If I'm running the situation, I can't take 5 minutes to explain to everyone everything that's going on.

ETA: on a second read of your question, and a bit more coffee, I'm just clueing in that your question is mostly rhetorical and kind of sarcastic. I like that.:D I'll leave my response, because it does kind of speak to the mindset, for anyone who searches on the topic.

This thread is making me all sentimental...:cry:

rugcat
10-13-2012, 08:04 PM
I always wondered about that kind of question to a SWAT guy. Clearly the right answer is no. So if he says yes, is he dumped because he's stupid?Hey, I've seen employee interviews where they ask "Do you do drugs?"

There actually are cowboy mentalities on PDs, (almost always younger guys) who think the right answer is yes. They think the question is about the ability to think for yourself and take initiative. Too stupid to be on SWAT? You could say that.

As a side note, one of things the SWAT leaders sometimes did after resolving a situation was to later interview the suspect, and invite them to critique the operation from their standpoint. Sounds weird, but a lot of these guys, esp barricaded suspects who had been involved with the system before and didn't want to go back, were eager to talk and brag.

Almost like a post game analysis, and some of them made very good points and freely explained what they were thinking.

My favorite was one who was asked, "If you were us, how would you have got you out of the house?

"Simple. I would have burned the house down."

Not practicable, of course, but direct and to the point. I actually used that line in one of my novels.

MoLoLu
10-13-2012, 09:14 PM
So, except for the observer (and I might take some fictional liberty and not have one, if no one thinks it would be a deal breaker for the reader), Ah but if the nonexistent observer knew his wife and... well... okay, that'd just screw the whole scenario up.


Would they try to talk to him through the door? I didn't think so, but I've been doing so darn much reading for this that it's starting to blur a bit. Not an expert, never had much to do with the police or SWAT, but I don't see why not if the circumstances are right.

So much is circumstantial. Mean, if I were in command, I don't want to breech or authorize kills unless I'm certain EVERY other option will not achieve results. The SWAT guys only human, I don't want to have open fire in any way, shape or form if I can avoid it. My priority is the lives I have my on my hands and sending in anyone with a gun is a risk, even if they're extremely good at their jobs. But it all depends on the situation.


the hostage taker up as having a history of emotional disturbance and behaviour issues

In the above scenario, this in particular worries me since it's a very unstable situation which I cannot judge how he will respond. Will he break down crying if we talk to him, will he shoot a hostage, will he open fire on us, will so many things happen which I can't foresee.

Round to the head sounds like a simple solution but what if the shooter misses? Suddenly I got a guy scared shitless and killing the people I'm responsible for. Think I'd have as many backups in place as possible. Preferably two shooters, a means to get the hostages out the moment the hostage taker goes down, who can also double as backup if the kill shots go wrong. But, before I go that far, I'd need to know every other option isn't available to me.

John342
10-14-2012, 07:26 AM
Great! So, except for the observer (and I might take some fictional liberty and not have one, if no one thinks it would be a deal breaker for the reader), I think I've dealt with this appropriately. I had the commanding officer give the ok for a shot, established that my MC is very good at this job and has a good track record with decision making and set the hostage taker up as having a history of emotional disturbance and behaviour issues, so likely to do something everyone would regret. The hostage taker isn't interested in talking; phone that ring are smashed.

Would they try to talk to him through the door? I didn't think so, but I've been doing so darn much reading for this that it's starting to blur a bit.

I think you can safely ditch the observer... not too much a stretch. I like that you give them a reason to believe that the guy is a time bomb... shooting him might become (if you word it right) a better option than trying to talk him down.

John342
10-14-2012, 07:32 AM
Ah but if the nonexistent observer knew his wife and... well... okay, that'd just screw the whole scenario up.

Not an expert, never had much to do with the police or SWAT, but I don't see why not if the circumstances are right.

So much is circumstantial. Mean, if I were in command, I don't want to breech or authorize kills unless I'm certain EVERY other option will not achieve results. The SWAT guys only human, I don't want to have open fire in any way, shape or form if I can avoid it. My priority is the lives I have my on my hands and sending in anyone with a gun is a risk, even if they're extremely good at their jobs. But it all depends on the situation.



In the above scenario, this in particular worries me since it's a very unstable situation which I cannot judge how he will respond. Will he break down crying if we talk to him, will he shoot a hostage, will he open fire on us, will so many things happen which I can't foresee.

Round to the head sounds like a simple solution but what if the shooter misses? Suddenly I got a guy scared shitless and killing the people I'm responsible for. Think I'd have as many backups in place as possible. Preferably two shooters, a means to get the hostages out the moment the hostage taker goes down, who can also double as backup if the kill shots go wrong. But, before I go that far, I'd need to know every other option isn't available to me.

Nothing is certain. Maybe you get 5 shooters? Its pretty likely you'll have one avenue to shoot through, a window, doorway... If you have another avenue you would deploy a second sniper there. If the sniper misses, its because you felt the bad guy was going to start killing people anyway and gave him the go. You are not going to give a go until you believe its the only way to neutralize the bad guy. And most SWAT teams have plenty of men in the entry team. When the decision is reached those guys are usually moving when the shot goes off.