Winston-Salem police seeking assistance in identifying possible missing child

Local authorities explain hostage negotiation tactics

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The seven-day standoff in Alabama is one local law enforcement teams will be using as a learning tool.

“We train for basic to as extraordinary situations as we can possible train for this obviously an extraordinary example,” explains Sgt. Matt Holder, a member of Guilford County’s Emergency Response Team.

Holder has worked on hostage situations before, one for 16 hours straight, and says even though the situation can drag on, it can only take seconds for the situation to change.

“Changes in mood, temperament, and what’s going on in the structure? Are more people coming and leaving? We have to take all that into account and base our decision on what we are getting from our negotiators.”

Holder says the two main objectives are to keep a safe environment and keep communication flowing between the kidnapper and the hostages.

“Teams are trying to keep constant communication to read into the kidnapper’s mind. It is a mental situation, a breakdown in family environment or psychological reason why this person is acting the way they are, and then at times we can tailor our response to that situation based on the person we are dealing with,” says Holder.

Weapons are a last-ditch effort, and many times Holder says it can make a mission backfire.

“By introducing things such as noise, tear gas, taser, you are raising your level of danger and stress for us to work with in. You are also eliminating that potential communication you may have with the hostage taker and hostage,” says Holder.

In the Alabama hostage crisis, the abductor is dead and the 5-year-old is free.

“Did they accomplish the safety of that hostage? Yes, they did,” says Holder.