Former HPD negotiator sheds light on barricade situations

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A barricade situation Kahala Hotel & Resort left one man dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to police reports, the incident started about 5:40 p.m. on Saturday evening.

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A spokesperson for the Kahala Hotel & Resort says that after HPD cleared the resort from lockdown, guests were allowed to return to their rooms.

That’s almost 11 hours. Honolulu police say they had been negotiating with the man.

KHON2 spoke to a former HPD hostage negotiator who shed some light on how this important process works.

Former negotiator Robert Cravalho says negotiators will take the time that’s necessary as long as the suspect is communicating with police and not hurting themselves, others or the officers.

Cravalho says HPD wants to avoid having the SWAT team make entry. He says the first step is opening up a line of communication with the suspect.

“We have what we call hostage rescue phone, which is just a phone line that we can throw the phone into the room or car wherever the scene may be,” said Cravalho. “We don’t want the suspect to have other forms of communication. So we want to stay away from cellular phone. If they have a cellular phone, we might try and block it because we don’t want them talking to anybody else but us.”

Once that’s established, Cravalho says it’s not about talking. As negotiators, they’re trained to actively listen with empathy.

“The whole idea of the negotiator is to bring the emotion down so that logic can take over. Then they can start making rational decisions as to the outcome of the situation,” he explained.

He says one of the challenges officials might face is if a loved one wants to get involved.

“That’s the last thing we want as well, simply because we don’t know if the suspect maybe doesn’t like his or her brother and that might just bring more conflict into the situation. Additionally, family members aren’t trained so they could also exacerbate the situation,” said Cravalho.

If a family member participates, Cravalho says they might do a recorded interview or message.

“That way we can screen it because once we hand over the phone or whatever communication device we’re using, we’re no longer in control and as law enforcement we have to remain in control at all times,” he shared.

Cravalho says there may be a misconception from the public when they see the SWAT team in full gear. He says they’re dressed like that not to do harm but to protect the community.

“And hopefully the negotiators will be able to do their job and the SWAT team doesn’t have to do anything but standby. That’s what they are all praying for as well. And if we can get a surrender and the person comes out and we can take them somewhere where they can get some help. That’s what we want,” he said.

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