Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bloody End to Hostage Drama shows poor strategy on part of the Police

Maybe i've just been watching too many action movies, or maybe common sense just kicked in on my part --- whatever the reason, it was obvious, watching from local news coverage of the hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand, that something was wrong with what the police did in trying to recuse the hostages inside the bus that was hijacked by Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

As far as i know, once negotiations break down, the use of rapid, deadly force is essential. What happened in Manila yesterday was the exact opposite. The police were slow, hesitant and indecisive. Their technique of trying to break the bus door using a mallet failed big time, and so with heir tactic of trying to pull the door away using a police car and a rope. These moves gave the hostage taker not just warning but time to set up a defensive position.

I remember a hostage drama in France a couple of years back. The rapid response force covered all sides of the vehicle and rushed in as the flash bangs went off. This took less than a minute. The one in the grandstand took about 30 minutes.

I also heard on the news last night that the reason the police decided to assault the vehicle was because of the statement of the driver who escaped from the bus that the hostages were dead. According to Judge Jimmy Santiago, former head of the SWAT team of MPD, this was erroneous since the report was unconfirmed. Santiago said that assaulting the bus without knowledge of the situation inside the bus was dangerous.

It was also reported last night that the arrest of the brother of the hostage taker on live television further angered him, prompting him to become violent. The police should not have done the arrest live on television, knowing that the hostage taker was monitoring the news inside the bus.

With this tragedy, the police should seriously re-think their rapid response tactics to ensure that such a tragedy will not happen again.

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