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Insight into the vital tactics of a SWAT negotiator

Posted at 8:56 PM, Jan 21, 2021

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — David Thomas, a professor of Forensic Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University says it’s all about negotiators building trust with the suspect, during SWAT situations.

“ I don’t look at SWAT’s job as necessarily helping, I look at their job as protection and containment. The other job to that, is hostage negotiation, and that's an entirely different job,” said Thomas.

In 24 hours, there have been 2 hostage situations. One murder-suicide in Charlotte County, involving a man who barricaded himself inside a home after shooting a woman in his driveway. A second today in Fort Myers, involving one man holding 2 victims hostage, that suspect now also dead.

Thomas says, there is an increase in SWAT situations, and the chaos from the year 2020, including the pandemic and social unrest might be to blame.

“Those are all stresses that we’ve never had to deal with before and as of this month we have gone through one year of that, and so the new normal is weighed on people psychologically,” said Thomas.

Thomas says the tactics used during standoffs are unlike any other, in order to prevent tragedy.

“What is rational, isn’t necessarily what we would think as rational, but meeting them where they are satisfied, and they are willing to come out. If you have a person that’s psychotic can you meet them at a place where there is an understanding and they trust law enforcement in order to be able to give themselves up,” said Thomas.

However, Thomas explains the lack of trust between people and the police is a factor to why these standoffs turn out tragic.

“You’re asking people to put trust in a system they have never trusted. Then that may encourage that person to give up because they know that I’m going to do the right thing. On the other side of that if there is no trust, why would I give up?” said Thomas.