Whathappens when a police officer is taken hostage? A new set of rules for a gameof life and death.
Policeofficers usually respond in tactical units. We serve as the initial patrolresponse, in SWAT units, as hostage negotiators or serve in ancillary crowd ortraffic control functions to keep the barricade /hostage control incident fromspreading to larger areas.
But whathappens when an officer is kidnapped? No, I do not mean a barricade/hostage controlsituation where you still have influence and some control. I am talking aboutwhere an officer is moved to an unknown location. While the officer is incaptivity, there is a new set of rules by which he should play the game of lifeand death. This article, if you accept its tenets, could save your life, justas this method has protected the lives of countless hostages in times past.
Who Is TheReal Enemy?
Thestatistics clearly indicate that if you are taken hostage through kidnapping,you are not likely to escape. Therefore, you will have to prepare yourself toendure captivity. Notice the word YOU is mentioned again and again. YOU areresponsible for avoiding the confrontation in which you are trapped. YOU areresponsible for your safety. Remember, most officers killed in the line of dutyhave partners. YOU are also responsible for your survival. No one else canhelp.
In fact,once in captivity, your enemy will not be your kidnappers, it will be yourattitude. Try to control your fear and your despair. These two destructiveemotions will quickly reduce your ability to resist and maintain your emotionalstability.
While yourfreedom has been taken away from you for a period of time, you can choose tosurvive. You can choose to obey your captors. If they want you to wear a mask -wear it. Not being able to identify the offender by sight is to your advantage.
Continueusing that advantage.
You canchoose to exercise. You can choose to drink all the water you can. You canchoose to eat well, even when you are not hungry. You can choose to stockpilefood and water for times when you are hungry. You can choose to accept apositive mental attitude. Generally, we find that a person, who respectshimself, survives.
While thereis no right way to behave at the inception of, and during an incident, bear inmind the following: If you grovel, you may be singled out by the kidnappers asan object of contempt. On the other hand, if you are too rigid, and stupidenough to argue with your captors, you may be signing your own death warrant.(Some scholars call the death warrant the «get rid of the jerk»syndrome). Attempt to maintain a sense of dignity and personal worth throughoutthe ordeal.
You cantake weapons with you into captivity! Yes, most of your belt goods are going tobe taken away. But knowledge, training, and survival indoctrination can neverbe taken away. You can «give them up» if you allow yourself to sinkinto a deep depression, but they can never be taken away.
Dr. RickFarley works with Contingency Preparation Consultants. A former NavyPsychologist, he worked with many P.O.W.’s as well as the Marines who were heldhostage for 444 days in Teheran, Iran. Dr. Farley found that the survivors whohad faith in God, faith in their government, or faith in their organizationswere far better equipped to handle their personal crisis. They were alsoquicker to get on with their lives and careers than those without faith andhope.
YourAttitude During Captivity
It is difficultto maintain a positive mental attitude during captivity, but you must do it.You must think, act, and reflect an attitude of self respect. Selfaggrandizement or cockiness is not what I mean here. Smart alecks are punished.What I am speaking of here is what some survivalist professionals call the»Jacksonian Attitude.»
BritishAmbassador Geoffrey Jackson was kidnapped by the Tupamaros in Uruguay. He washeld for over 9 months in an underground cell. But in spite of this condition,Ambassador Jackson had the attitude that he was «Her Majesty’sRepresentative to Uruguay», whether he was in the splendor of a LondonPalace or the squalor of a Uruguayan «peoples» prison.
He sufferedthrough dysentery and squatted over a water pail in his misery. Many of hisjailors were young Tupamaro females who were positioned within a few feet ofhim 24 hours a day. They often mocked him in his discomfort. But even in themidst of ridicule, the Ambassador comported himself admirably.
Whether youare alone or with a group, you are still surrounded by a hostile environment.Fellow TRA member Anthony Scotti also has much to say about a victim’s attitudein his most excellent book Executive Safety and International Terrorism: AGuide for Travelers.
«Besidesthe smell of unwashed perspiring bodies, and the smell of human waste, therewill be sickly odor of fear. There is no place to hide from the nightmare, noplace for tranquility and no place for privacy. The victim has to make his orher tranquility.»
EarnestBrace was employed as a civilian pilot during the Vietnam era. Flying overLaos, he was shot down and held for several years by the Viet Cong. In hissearch for truth, he reviewed a text written by a Jew held captive in NaziGermany.
In Man’sSearch for Meaning, author Victor Frankle, tells of his own captivity, and ofman’s ability to overcome evil and control his own destiny. He writes thatunder such conditions «everything can be taken from a man, but one thing;the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set ofcircumstances, to choose one’s own way.»
GregAnderson recently wrote a unique book. Entitled The Cancer Conqueror, it waswritten by a man diagnosed as having terminal cancer, but who decided to fightthe diagnosis, fight the doctors, and fight the disease. In his search formethods to win the battle over cancer, he interviewed others who also had wonthis fight.
He foundthat a common thread ran through all of their lives. It was more than just thepower of faith and positive thinking. It was the power of positive living.
In theheart of the book lies this secret. When you discover you have cancer, you havea choice, you can prepare to die or you can prepare to live. It is exactly whenyou start making choices about your life and your treatment that your cancer nolonger controls you.
Thisattitude is precisely the one that the long-term or short term hostage shouldhave. Some people fear they will die. They fear it so much that they mentallyprepare themselves for it, but in so doing they increase the chance for theirown death. On the other hand, many terrorism or hostage victims decide to live.They set out to live even in captivity with dignity in spite of the mostdifficult circumstances and they survive.
You candecide to keep a good attitude. You can decide to cooperate on reasonableissues. You can elect to exercise each day, even if it is only isometric orisotonic exercises.
GeneralDozier of the Italian Red Brigade Captivity, continued to exercise even thoughhe was chained. You can choose to eat and drink of the food and waterdistributed to you.
Thosehostages who do «give up» emotionally become lethargic. Their bodyfunctions slow down. If they set on the ground for long periods of time, theymay discover kidney dysfuntionalism. Then toxic wastes are not properlyexpelled. Toxemia may result. But this is avoidable because you can choose toeat, drink, and exercise reasonably, avoiding the condition entirely.
In additionto enforced inactivity, changes in your diet, and swinging emotions, there is aphysical phenomenon known as the acetylcholine effect. In the «fight orflight» syndrome actualized during your abduction, adrenaline surgedthrough your body. The «fight or flight» response is the reverse ofthe acetylcholine malady. The acetylcholine effect is associated with justgiving up, of total emotional surrender.
Acetylcholineis a chemical compound characteristic of a biological surrender. This is theagent found in large doses in a hibernating bear’s bloodstream. It can also befound in the bloodstreams of possums when they «play dead». The pulserate, blood pressure, and blood sugar all go down. The animal is thenbiologically prepared for surrender.
Herein liesthe rub. The reaction of prisoners varies significantly. Some are likely tobecome overly submissive, others are more resistant.
Yourattitude is the most important weapon you have when your gun and other weaponshave been removed. Use them wisely and well. Have faith. You must have faithand you must have hope. Faith and hope are necessary survival tools.