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Hostage Taking

1. Evaluate the situation. Can this person be approached or controlled without the use of force? How many individuals are involved? What kinds of weapons do they have? What is their demeanor? Is negotiation an option? What are their descriptions? Do they mention each other name?
2. Isolate the perpetrator from other innocent bystanders or potential victims. For example, ask the perpetrator to come to another location or attempt to dismiss his audience.
3. Secure the perimeter. It is important to prevent other students, staff, or visitors from entering the high-risk zone.
4. Evacuate the area. Individuals who can be safely removed from the vicinity should leave.
5. Remain calm. The more intense the situation, the greater the need for calmness. Advising someone to remain calm is much easier than putting that calmness into practice; however, it is critically important to avoid escalating the incident's intensity.
6. Get help immediately from whatever source is possible. Law enforcement is the ideal choice when a serious weapons/hostage situation is unfolding.
7. Report the incident to law enforcement.
8. Negotiate, if possible. Sometimes you may not have the opportunity to negotiate. However, if you are still talking, most likely you will have an opportunity to buy some time. Find out what the individual wants. However, do not make promises you cannot deliver. Tell them that you will see what can be done and then work towards that end. Your commitments must be perceived as sincere and believable.
9. Avoid heroics. Don't threaten or intimidate. Keep a safe, non-intimidating distance. Keep your hands clearly visible. Avoid abrupt, sporadic movements. Avoid eye contact.
10. With caution, ask the aggressor to give you the gun. Amazingly, individuals will often do what they are asked. Be careful -- they may actually give you the gun in a way you did not expect.
11. Look for a place to dive or jump. Your negotiations may not always be effective, be thinking about a potential escape plan for yourself and others.

The Administrator Should:

1. When notifying the police about a firearm incident, advise them to use a code word on their radio communication. This is especially important for schools so that parents or others who may be monitoring the police channel will not become alarmed and begin flooding the school with calls or with their presence. This can also be important to insure that the media does not arrive at the campus before the police. Any information that is placed on the local airwaves could create further crisis problems for the district.
2. Officials should utilize any two-way communications capability that may exist between the front office and the crisis scene. Being able to monitor what is happening over the intercom system can be very helpful.
3. Communicate with other employees.
4. If hostages are to hold their position, they should be advised to stay away from windows, drop to the prone position, take cover, and wait for the all-clear signal. Closing curtains or blinds, if it can be safely done, may be another option to make it more difficult for a gunman to know there are additional potential hostages. Keep the blinds or windows open in an area where the hostage situation is taking place. This will help law enforcement in monitoring the situation.
5. Once law enforcement has been called they will take over the situation. Although someone should be available to provide advice on floor plans and so on, or to secure the building doors so that other individuals will not complicate the crisis scene by their presence.
6. When the aggressor leaves the hostage area, the room should be secured so as not to allow the individual to return.
7. Identify a safe place or room where the individual may be safely interrogated or interviewed.
8. Once the perpetrator has been asked to leave the room, at least two officers should be strategically placed near the doorway so that the individual can be subdued by their arms in such a way as to preclude them from reaching or using any weapon.
9. The individual should be advised as to why the search is being conducted. The individual should then be thoroughly searched in accordance with reasonable 4th Amendment guidelines .

STEPS FOR PROFESSIONAL AND SUPPORT STAFF

* Call 911 and contact the building administrator.
* Do your best to keep those involved (intruder, students, other staff) as calm as possible.
* Do not try to overextend your role. Do not try to commandeer the situation. Do not antagonize the intruder.
* Stay alert to direction from the principal/building administrator.
* If a weapon is involved, do not take any risks such as overpowering the intruder or trying to confiscate the weapon unless physical harm is being done or you are 100 percent certain that you can succeed.