An often-overlooked resource on barricaded-suspect calls

Dealing with a barricaded subject in an apartment complex? Don’t ignore a “huge, huge resource that’s often overlooked” — the maintenance person for the building.

“He shouldn’t be dismissed as just a ‘lookie-loo’ to get out of the way,” Sgt. Phil Galer, a SWAT team leader with the Pittsburg (Calif.) PD, emphasized recently at the annual training conference of the Assn. of SWAT Personnel-Wisconsin.

“In reality, he can be a great problem solver. He has keys, he knows where utilities can be controlled, he’s familiar with the layouts of units.” Such instant expertise can help you quickly cut through what might otherwise be time-consuming obstacles.

Galer debriefed the 300 conference attendees on a tense confrontation last year in which a young gangbanger took his mother hostage and threatened to detonate explosives and shoot her, before he himself was brought down by simultaneous fire by two snipers. Galer said, “We got hold of the maintenance guy and kept him right on our hips” during protracted and complex efforts to evacuate other residents, rescue the mother safely, and resolve the standoff.

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