It's not often you get to see the FBI working with local law enforcement on hostage negotiation training, but our station got inside access on a simulation that made a hostage situation as real as possible.
The man took his wife hostage after shooting another man at a local grocery store. He barricaded himself in his car, holding his wife and gunpoint and not only threatening to kill her, but talking about suicide.
That's where the hostage negotiator comes in.
“This is a tough one because it's outdoors,” said FBI Special Agent Karl Schmae. “It's windy, it's noisy and they're working out of a cramped situation in the Bearcat.”
The negotiator is all the stands between the man and an unhappy ending. He convinced the man to let his wife out of the car, but then refused to come out himself. That's when the negotiator got a recording of the man's daughters asking him to please come home. After that, the man put his gun on the roof of the car, stepped out and police took him into custody.
And with that the training simulation was over.
“They really had some tough things to overcome,” said Schmae. “This is probably one of the harder scenarios student have to deal with. They really did a good job.”
Schmae said this training is vital to the area's law enforcement officers, especially because there are very few situations like this that come up.
"The first couple days they're sitting in a class just learning about the basic strategies behind negotiation,” he said. “This gives them a chance to implement it."
This training is a monthly training Bannock County holds. Not only do other counties participate but local city law enforcement does as well. This month was a special case because the FBI helped coordinate during the simulation.
While this training happened in Bannock County, it isn't the only county to benefit from this training. There are a total of seven counties who have a joint team called the STAR (Special Tactics and Response) team.
Dalley said he's proud of the STAR unit, and Agent Schmae said the region is lucky to have the unit. It's members of this team that need to be able to respond in any type of hostage situation.
"We want to make sure that nobody gets hurt," said Jim Dalley, chief deputy with Bannock County. "If possible, you try to talk and reason and come to a conclusion that's safe for everybody."
Dalley said this obviously isn't always the case, referring to the January 2013 standoff with Boede Paul that resulted in his death (story: bit.ly/1isHyHd) as well as the March 2013 incident at Petco (story: bit.ly/1isHhnQ) that could have quickly turned into a negotiation situation had the man not been shot by a Bannock County deputy.
“Sometimes the actions of the person that we're dealing with force a different kind of action on our part,” Dalley said.