Slowly the vehicle crawled to a halt near to the junction of our RV point. The night was dark with a light fog settling over the roof tops of the houses nearby. The street was bathed in light as every house had their lights on as the occupants craned their necks to see what was going on. We could see the blue flashing lights ahead of us and we awaited the arrival of orders.
Sitting in the relative warmth of our truck we watched black clothed figures move in and out of the shadows at the other end of the street. Somewhere in that area was the house where a male had gone ‘ballistic’ and had trashed the property after assaulting his girlfriend. His girlfriend was on her way to the local hospital with injuries consistent with a heavy and sustained beating.
The assailant, the owner of the property, had locked himself in the house and had made threats to kill himself and anyone who came near. No one went near…..yet. Our job was to hang back while the Police tried to talk him into giving himself up. We were there for anybody who should become injured during the siege. Behind us another Police vehicle arrived and out poured several dark clad and heavily armed officers. I make a mental note ‘Should they not be between us and the house?’
Its ‘dark o clock’ in the small hours of the morning and we have still half a shift left. These jobs either go very quickly and everyone shakes out back to their stations or base, or they drag on for hours and hours. And in some cases days and days. I hope for the former. We are both tired, hungry and thirsty after being bounced from job to job since leaving our station at the start of the shift. My eyes feel gritty and my stomach thinks my throats been cut. I also have a full bladder the size of a ‘Space Hopper’.
Thoughts of a ‘wet’ and some food are interrupted as the armed officers behind us split up and edge down either side of the street towards their unarmed colleagues. All we can hear are careful, muffled footsteps as they try to keep in the shadows. Looking at their kit as they file past us they are dressed in the usual dark fire retardant coveralls and carrying what appears to be Heckler and Koch sub machine guns and automatic pistols strapped into thigh holsters with various magazine pouches. All are wearing hard helmets and a couple are balaclavered up!
A Police officer walks over to us and tells us the score. Stamping his feet and blowing into his hands to try and keep warm in the cold night air he explains that our potential customer (and their potential client) has gone to ground in the house. No lights are showing and because he is known to be violent and has assaulted Police before lots of officers have been deployed including armed response. ‘Is he talking to anyone?’ I ask. The Police officer states that since the initial threats he has been quiet.
‘Whats the plan then? Are you going to storm the house or sit it out?’ I hope for a storming then we can crack on and get sorted for tea and medals back at our station. ‘Don’t ask me, the Bosses are playing it cagey. But I do know that ‘Negotiators’ have been called for.’ This should be interesting as there is no space for another vehicle down here. Where a ‘Command & Control’ unit will go no one knows.
‘So what are the negotiators going to do?’ my crew mate asks as he settles down with both boots on the dashboard, arms crossed and his head hunkered down into his fleece looking like a giant, fat baby sparrow. ‘Well the main thing they’ll do is set up secure comms. They’ll get dedicated, secure phones into the house somehow and open up the negotiations. I do know they’ve got some sophisticated kit.’
‘Once comms are in place they’ll use psychological techniques and mind games to out wit him and hopefully secure a peaceful conclusion to the scene.’ I vaguely recall a film with Denzil Washington and another with Bruce Willis in a siege situation. ‘Failing all reasonable means to resolve the situation the MOE (methods of entry) team will go in. And they will go in hard.’ My next question is the all important one…‘How long til they get here?’
The minutes pass by slowly and after another updated sit-rep from the Police I decide to ask one of the many curious householders if I can use their toilet? Its not one of the nicer estates around here but the householder is happy to let me use the facilities. After reducing the size of my ‘Space Hopper’ considerably, I am greeted at the bottom of the stairs by the householders wife holding two mugs of tea. ‘Do you want any sugar love?’ Resisting the urge to ask for cake and biscuits I gratefully accept the proffered beverages.
Sitting in the truck with our steaming hot mugs of sweet tea, we keep wiping the inside of the windscreen free of condensation which has emanated from said vessels of ‘Ambulancemans Nectar.’ Two hours have now passed and there is still no sign of the negotiators. I have visions of the wanted man fast asleep in his bed whilst we are all waiting outside. My next vision is of two fat blokes walking down the street towards the house.
‘Looks like they must live round here. Should see some fun and games when the Police stop them!’ I say to my crew mate. As they get nearer to the property a Police officer beckons them over towards a marked Police vehicle. They stop in the middle of the street and exchange a few words with the officer. Both look about in their early fifties, unfit and appear to have just got up. I wait to see what happens to our two ‘gate crashers.’ They move away and continue towards the house!
Within seconds they are through the garden gate of the house and as one moves to the front door the other looks around the front garden for something. This is bizarre, why have they been allowed to approach the house? The first man crouches down and shouts something through the letterbox! The second man has started to throw pebbles at the bedroom window! The scene is unfolding in front of our very eyes as we sit in our truck 200 metres away. The Police have not moved! They maintain their positions.
Pointing towards the house I ask the nearest officer ‘What the **** is going on?’ He looks over to the house, looks back to me and smiles…‘Those two? That’s Bill and Ben. The negotiators!’ A couple of minutes later and lights come on in the house and five minutes after that Police are let into the property. Not more than five minutes later the wanted man calmly walks out handcuffed and towards a waiting Police car!!!
So after two and a half hours all it took was two fat blokes to shout through the letter box and chuck some stones up at a window to resolve the situation! All I can think is that they were either very lucky and brazened it out or they knew him better than anyone else?
What would Denzil or Bruce have done…?