Back when simunition first came out (non-lethal ammunition that police and military people fire from their weapons in training situations that splatters rather than killing) the US Navy sent me to a USDOJ training class on hostage negotiation and rescue at Quantico, VA to better learn how USDOJ did it. The instructors, many and varied, told us that, “in a hostage situation, the hostage has no value”. We went out for a practical exercise and I became the voice of the student negotiators to negotiate and demonstrate with the pretend hostage taker while being evaluated by FBI experts. Instructors explained that if we did a good job, the situation would be defused that the hostage would be released and the hostage taker could be taken safely into custody.

In the real world, “taken into custody”, meant that the hostage taker would face a lengthy trial at public expense and incarceration for a long period of time at public expense.

In this training scenario, the hostage and hostage taker wore protective clothing and goggles. I had a bull horn and a handgun loaded with simunition. The scenario called for me to negotiate. The scenario’s hostage taker had an arm around the hostage’s neck and used him as a body shield. He said something. I replied, “I can’t hear you.” He stuck his head out next to the hostage’s in order to speak more clearly and I shot him in the nose.
The FBI instructor was furious both because I shot instead of negotiated and because his buddy’s nose was lascerated by the simunition round. The pretend hostage taker was far more concerned with his nose than with the hostage, he released the simulated hostage and the “hostage” ran free.

The FBI instructor asked, “What were you thinking, LL?” He said, “You were supposed to negotiate with him, not hurt him, you #%& Navy asshole.”

However, I think that this instructor, like the rest of modern DOJ, is missing the point.  It’s not about negotiation with criminals. It’s not about pandering to jihadis, it’s not about glorifying gang members who prey on honest citizens and martyring the honest and faithful who protect themselves. Shooting the hostage taker in the nose ended the negotiation.

The goggles only covered his eyes. His nose was only protected by a knit ski mask – they took more care to find appropriate protective gear after that – “lesson learned”.

Shooting the marathon bomber stopped his bombing days. Killing bin Laden kept him from further plotting. Does anyone remember Christopher Dorner, former LAPD reject last year? He burned to death in a cabin in the San Gorgornio mountains not far from from Los Angeles, thus ending the negotiation after he killed several police officers in a rampage through Southern California.

I do not suggest that there is not a place in this world for negotiation. I’m sure that it exists. However, I don’t think that hostage takers, baby rapers, jihadi terrorists or people of that stripe deserve much more than a bullet in the nose. Or in Dorner’s case, a few pyrotechnic gas canisters through the window of a dry wooden mountain cabin where he’d taken refuge after murdering a police officer. The coroner was able to safely remove the carcass from the ashes, thus ending the psychological trauma of Christopher Dorner.


  1. Are you sure you remember correctly? An FBI instructor CURSING! I don't think so.

    There was an incident in Arizona a few years back where a man on meth carjacked a truck (I think Kryspy Kreme!) and after a pursuit and other shenanigans, dumped the truck and fled into a grocery store. He took an elderly man hostage, and dragged him out the back door. Where his head was met with a .223 at close range. The hostage received shrapnel to the neck (I think skull-fragment-shrapnel) and began to bleed profusely. The hostage was saved…and all the press could do was question the decision. Because they had the time, and it was not their dad, or grandpa, with a gun to his head. The family of the elderly hostage was forced to respond, and THANKED the officer for saving the life that counted. I can't think I would feel any different…

  2. LOL, LOVE IT!!! Strangely enough, one of my friends here (Ex-SF now Deputy Sheriff, did the almost identical thing with an identical response… And was kicked out the negotiating team because of it… 🙂

  3. Hijacking a Krispy Kreme doughnut truck is a capital offense in any state in the union, hostage or no hostage.

  4. I don't think that the response varies. If you kill the hostage taker, you're somehow wrong.

    I can't hear you — what did you say? is always a great tactic to get them to speak louder and directly to you. * —–> and it's on the way.

    And as to the brass and their notions, joke 'em if they can't take a f#%@.

  5. The polite thing to do would be not take a hostage. At least that's how I view it. What kind of pussy hides behind a woman's skirts?

  6. That was always my point of view.

    I suspect that President Obama feels differently because he sees himself in every dope smoking, burglarizing, "at risk" youth, who attacks somebody.

  7. Sounds like the right response was that the purpose of the negotiation was to make the negotiator look good . . . screw the hostage.

    Your way seems much more efficient all the way around.

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