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What do officers say to a hostage taker to have their hostage released unharmed? What can a suicidal subject be told to prevent them from ending their own life?
Lieutenant Dennis Flynn spent nearly two decades responding to hostage situations, armed barricaded subjects, and suicidal individuals in Las Vegas. Many of these events occurred beneath the glitter of the Las Vegas strip!
His informative book provides a view behind the scenes of heart-stopping, life-threatening situations and includes:
- Actual accounts of critical incidents in Las Vegas including hostage takers and armed suspects.
- Mistakes made during the critical incidents.
- Lessons learned and improvement suggestions to prepare for future events.
The City of Las Vegas has one of the highest incidents of police response to these armed encounters. Held Hostage: Negotiating Life and Death for the Las Vegas Police Department not only provides law enforcement with tips on how to effectively deal with these types of events but it also provides the public a rare view of how these incidents are handled as well as how to improve one’s own communication skills. Over 70 photographs are included which further illustrate the difficulties of responding to these dangerous events.
From The Book:
At 3:00 AM, Eric had been talking with Brian for an hour. Although Eric brought up key points that seemed to capture Brian’s attention, there were several times Brian would remind us that he was going to die that evening and he would make the police kill him. It seemed that each time Brian brought up his desire to be killed by police, he inched his way closer to the armored vehicle. Not only did Eric and I notice him getting closer but the SWAT officers remained acutely aware as well.
The cold weather had its effects on everyone. Not only were Eric and I cold but we could see the SWAT officers moving around outside of Brian’s view, trying to stay warm. The temperature appeared to be having an adverse effect on Brian as well. There were several times we could see his body trembling and it appeared it was the cold weather causing this, not his nerves. He was only wearing a leather coat over a short-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
At 3:19 AM, the cold weather really got to Brian. We could see him passing the pistol from one hand to the other, but always keeping it pointed to his head. He continued to move around in an attempt to stay warm.
Brian moved the gun away from his head to change which hands would hold the pistol. While changing hands and the gun briefly pointed upwards, it suddenly discharged. The gun going off startled Brian. It scared the hell out of me. As soon as it went off, Brian began apologizing, explaining that he did not mean to do it. Although apologetic, he put the gun right back to his head.
I believe it was Brian’s cold, trembling hands that cause the accidental discharge of the pistol. Others believed Brian intentionally fired a round, possibly as a test fire in the prelude of forcing a police intervention. Whatever the case, Brian fired a .40 caliber round into the air near an extremely busy intersection and freeway. He could not continue to fire rounds without the police taking action.
Eric really stepped up the pace. He continued to talk to Brian about the possibilities life still held for him. Brian replied that if we gave him a cellular phone and allowed him to make a call, he would put the gun down. This was a request we would consider, but who was he going to call and what was he going to say? It was our experience that many of suicidal people choose to call a loved one to say goodbye before committing the act.
From The Author:
Most people who apply to become a police officer explain they want to help people. Those wanting to become hostage/crisis negotiators have the same desire; the stakes are just much higher. Negotiators leave their friends and family, at a moment’s notice, to help a complete stranger. They share the highs experienced when saving a life and the gut-punches when events turn tragic. Being part of a peaceful resolution, helping our fellow man at their greatest moment of need, is one of the best experiences a person can be part of.
Praise for Dennis Flynn:
“Dennis Flynn has written in “Held Hostage” a riveting true life account of his work as a police crisis negotiator in rough and tumble Las Vegas. From hostage takers to depressed suicidal individuals, the challenges he and his fellow negotiators faced were daunting, and usually came with life and death consequences. His candid descriptions of these critical incidents, including both successes and failures, and his acknowledgment of what went well and what didn’t, is refreshingly candid. This book takes the reader into a specialized world that few will ever experience; a world of immense pressure, critical decision making, and uncertain outcomes. This is a must read for anyone interested in crisis (hostage) negotiations.” – Gary W. Noesner, Chief, FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit, Author of “Stalling For Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.”
“From a negotiator with a heart as big as the city he served, Flynn tells compelling yet humble stories of Sin City’s most harrowing police standoffs. Told in crisp detail, Flynn provides an enlightening perspective of the police response to barricaded subjects, suicidal jumpers and cornered criminals. His refreshingly candid revelations of the lessons learned remind us all of the complex, emotional and sometimes heartbreaking nature of this business. The analyses alone are worth the price of the book and should be mandatory reading for every crisis negotiation and tactical team leader.” – Deb McMahon, owner, Crisis Systems Management, a crisis/hostage negotiation training and consulting company as well as author of ‘Into the Chaos: Crisis Negotiation Field Manual’
“‘Held Hostage’ is the real and raw stories of one of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s most experienced Hostage/Crisis Negotiators. He pulls no punches with this gritty true life collection of stories that reveal not only the hard hitting life and death tales from his incredible career, but reveals the humanity of a seasoned cop. Read it and you will step into a world that few ever experience.” – Lieutenant Randy Sutton (Ret) Author of A Cops Life / True Blue and host of Blue Lives Radio, The Voice of American Law Enforcement
“In ‘Held Hostage’, author and retired cop, Dennis Flynn, provides gripping scenes full of life and death decisions from real police crisis negotiations in Las Vegas. Flynn takes you into the command post where you’ll see the human side of cops, the moment-by-moment decisions, and teamwork negotiators use. Flynn’s ability to objectively critique each operation he worked is a tribute to the pursuit of truth all cops share. ‘Held Hostage’ is cops trying to save lives on full tilt.” – Bradley Nickell, Las Vegas Police Officer and author of Repeat Offender
“Written in a conversational style, easy to read and hard to put down, this book tells the stories of real-life incidents while pointing out effective strategies as well as mistakes made. ‘Held Hostage’ is filled with valuable lessons learned written in the context of the actual events. Reading it is like watching several interesting and engaging incident debriefs at a negotiation conference, and having the presenter unabashedly share lessons learned. The take-aways are priceless.” – Troy King, President, Western States Hostage Negotiators’ Association (WSHNA), and Sergeant/Team Leader of Portland Police Bureau’s Crisis Negotiation Team
“It takes a special kind of person to be a hostage negotiator. Nerves of steel, unwavering commitment, and a big heart. Imagine sitting down with such a person and letting them tell you the inside story of their best and worst cases, what happened, how, and why. It’s riveting. From the first case to the last, Dennis Flynn puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there. Hold on tight.” – Peter Eichsteadt, award-winning author of BORDERLAND