Archive for May 22nd, 2011

May 22 2011

Some ideas on police standoffs

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

The New York Times has an article on police standoffs, which I think could be useful if you’re writing a scene where a protagonist deals with something like a hostage situation and/or a barricaded gunman.   For more information on this, I’d recommend checking out Stalling For Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. For the short version, here are some ideas I’ve gathered along the way:

 

1.  Even if you want to resolve the hostage situation with protagonists rushing in, negotiation can play a key role.

  • A tactical takedown is more likely to succeed with few casualties if the police have time to prepare.  For example, during the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Peru, the police prepared by smuggling in communications equipment to hostages (so that they could learn what was going on inside), provided light-colored clothes to the hostages (so they could be easily distinguished), and scheduled their raid at a time when the hostage-takers liked to play soccer and would be away from the hostages.   To practice their strategy, the Peruvian commandos built a scale building of the compound, including the tunnels they had dug to carry out the raid.
  • Often, negotiators can convince the criminals to release some hostages and/or surrender.  (It’s harder for hostage-takers to keep control of large groups of hostages and the police may be willing to offer food and water in exchange for releases, so there is some incentive to release some hostages).  Best case scenario: Armed confrontation isn’t necessary.  Worst case scenario: If the protagonists do need to execute a raid, fewer hostages will be at risk.

 

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