Fargo SWAT NonControversy

SWAT Caught Talking About Making Gunman Kill Himself

Fargo, North Dakota, police considered encouraging suicide for a barricaded man who killed one of their officers—and they might actually do it next time.

Fargo “ Lt. Bill Ahlfeldt had already given “the greenlight” for snipers to “engage the target with rounds to eliminate the threat,” he wrote in an after-action report. As his fellow officers were taking incoming fire from Schumacher’s rifles, Lt. Ahlfeldt and two fellow senior cops discussed using “negotiation tactics that would try to encourage Mr. Schumacher to stop the threat himself by committing suicide.

I’m unsure what the controversy is in the linked article.  A nice guy, an everyman, with a history of head injuries and exhibiting side effects from those injuries twists off runs the wife and kids out of the house, barricades himself inside and begins shooting at police, killing one.

Negotiation is not working. A gunman who continues to fire may be confined to a limited area but the situation is not contained. Forty years of (west coast) SWAT protocol calls for a “green light” authorizing snipers to take a shot, if offered.  The snipers had the authorization to shoot.

A brief discussion was held in the command post, could the negotiator talk the suspect into committing suicide?  Statistically, this was a likely outcome, but not one that the negotiator felt he could bring about. Not clear in the story, it seems that a sniper did get a shot off, that was not fatal. The suspect died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. The cops talked about suicide, the bad guy did it, bad cops.  Sorry, it won’t fly.

Can the cops talk a suspect into committing suicide?  There was the Dutch Train Hijacking 1977.  Negotiators in that incident were accused of doing just that.  It’s easy to make accusations from an armchair.

Shortly after the Dutch incident, after a long day of teaching “run fast jump high” in a basic SWAT class we were busy replacing electrolytes at the “Chicken Oil Co” when the topic of suicide came up.

Our kindly Texas A&M professor and negotiations guru pointed out that such a course of action, on the part of a psychologist or psychiatrist would likely place their professional license in jeopardy. He hesitated and said, “but I think it would be okay to convince the offender to stand in a window, for a three count.”

Lt. Bill Ahlfeldt, just a thought for your command post contingency plans you might include the “Harvey Option” tactically it doesn’t do a thing, but oh what fun you can have at the press conference.

Harvey Option outfit entry team in six foot white bunny costumes with weapons of choice painted orange, send them in on a dynamic entry.  The gunman confronted with what appears to be visual hallucinations will be too stunned to act, it may push him over the edge into a full catatonic state.  Let me know how it works.