Four deputies train in hostage negotiation

Published 1:32 am Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four officers from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department received hostage negotiation training from the FBI that will help them save lives, of both suspects and victims.

Brandon Carr, James Adams, Van Giadrosich and Randy Messa were part of a week-long training course taught by five agents with the FBI, said Special Agent Kevin Rust. Fifteen other officers from Mississippi law enforcement agencies from Laurel to Pascagoula also participated in the free training, Rust said.

The training involved role playing hostage situations, in addition to class room learning. For the role playing skits, Pearl River Community College Criminal Justice Instructor Tina Jeromes brought 10 of her students to fill the role of the “suspect” for a bit of extra credit, she said. Jeromes said Rust has come to her class several times in the past to speak to her students.

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Rust said the training will help the officers deal with hostage situations or with a variety of other situations, such as suicidal subjects or domestic disputes.

The training also gave the officers a chance to use some specialized equipment commonly used by hostage negotiators, such as the throw phones, which are thrown into the area of the hostage situation to allow the suspect and negotiators to speak using a secure line, Rust said.

“A lot of them will be the only negotiators in the department when they are done,” Rust said.

Rust estimates that hostage situations take place in Mississippi once or twice a month, but take place everyday nationwide. Using negotiation tactics helps to resolve hostage or barricaded subject situations peacefully with little to no injury to the suspect or hostage, said Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker. With the training complete, the four officers with the Sheriff’s Department will work with the department’s SWAT team, and just as do the SWAT and K-9 divisions, the hostage negotiators will continue to train and practice monthly.

Even though hostage situations don’t occur in Pearl River County everyday, the officers expect to be able to use their new skills everyday. Carr, who is an investigator, said he plans to use the listening skills he’s learned to become better at investigations.

Adams said he will use his new training during patrols and especially during domestic dispute calls. Domestic disputes can be dangerous since they involve two people with high tempers and different points of view, causing them to become unstable at times, so these techniques can be used to calm high tempers, Rust said. Adams said he can use his negotiating training to keep calm both parties involved in a domestic dispute.