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Skull132

Security, Heads of Staff, and Barricaded Suspects

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This has been something I've wanted to address for a few months now. So, might as well.


First up, let's establish what we're talking about. A barricaded suspect is an individual who a barricaded suspect is:

A barricaded subject can be defined as a person or persons in a location that provides a means of spatial separation that assists them in avoiding apprehension from law enforcement. In short, a barricaded subject is in a position that inhibits law enforcement from easily taking them into custody.

Credit and source.


Second, why am I even discussing it?


Quite bluntly, because I've gotten tired of sec assaults for days. A hasty assault should not be the default solution to a barricaded suspect! And heads of staff/security officers should not be against trying to resolve a situation with words! These things happen way too often, and it kinda forces antagonists to forcefully escalate situations, which results in sec not being bothered anymore, and yadda. You get the dead circle imagery, right? Right.


So, picking at sec's side here, the following is how a barricaded suspect situation should be resolved. The responsibility for executing the actions described below falls on the shoulders of the heads of staff and security. And note that I do intend, fully, on having my staff enforce these standards.


How should security and station command be conducting themselves when handling a barricaded suspect?



First, let's identify what the standard priorities for NT are:

  • Profit
  • Equipment
  • Personnel

 

An ideal solution to a barricaded situation will be the one that promises to resolve the situation with minimal damage to equipment and personnel. To that end, keep in mind the following:

  • Training replacement personnel takes time, as such, loss of life is a very expensive thing.
  • The psychological treatment required for clones is expensive. As such, "We can clone'em!" is never a valid excuse.
  • Medical treatment of any kind is also expensive. Further, a hostage situation handled subpar may reflect badly on your performance review as an employee.

 

Now, does this mean that we should just cave in and offer a hostage taker whatever he wants? No, because then the company will lose:

  • Money, in form of the ransom, which may outweigh the time invested in the employee that was traded.
  • The hostage themselves.
  • The hostage taker, who may, at times, be an employee of the station and the company. (He most likely won't be coming back to serve with NT anymore.)

 

A barricaded hostage situation is a balancing act. As security and command staff, it is your job to bring about the most profitable and most balanced resolution feasible.

And note that your justification for pursuing any of these solutions cannot be post act. You need to be able to say, in the present, "This will be the most fitting resolution to this problem." If your only excuse for picking a solution is post act, and can be summarized as, "Well, no one got hurt, so's all good, aye?" then you've pretty much failed to do your job.


What are some possible outcomes to such situations, then? And where do they fit on the scale?

  • Hasty assault - Practiced a majority of the time, involves rushing in and shooting people.

    More often than not, puts at high risk both equipment and personnel. Simply from a "profit v damages" standpoint, this is the most riskiest resolution, and should not be the default mode of action.
  • Planned assault - The security team spent time to acquire a tactical advantage over the barricaded suspect.

    This is the ideal brute-force resolution, and should always be kept in motion as plan Z. Ideally, risk to equipment and personnel is lower than in the case of a hasty assault.

    If no other solutions work, then this should be the way to go. However, even this cannot always be executed at a whim. A planned assault is an assault with every care taken to ensure in the fact that potential damages are kept to a minimum. From gearing up officers, to investigating methods of separating the hostage taker from the hostage (even if by a few metres), to whatever other advantage you can gain at the time. Of course, there are times where none of this is possible, and sometimes the only difference between a hasty and a planned assault is equipment and mental preparedness on the officers' side.
  • Subject surrenders - The barricaded suspect surrenders peaceful.

    The ideal solution. Can be attained through a myriad of means, depending on the situational specifics. Anything from simply talking down the suspect, to calming them, to whatever. Not everyone is (or should be, cough) looking to remain solid to what they wanted to achieve. If the situation permits it, always attempt to reach this goal.
  • Suspects gets away, you get the hostage - A rare, in-between type a deal.

    If an attempted ruse goes bad, or the hostage gets free. The most neutral solution you can get.

 

These are roughly the three and a half ways a situation with a barricaded suspect can end. Now, how do we actually manage a situation?


First, identify the situation as a barricaded situation, and evaluate the situation. Initial actions:

  • Prepare security by moving them into proximity of the suspect. Make sure that you don't get too close, for fear of escalating the situation without need, but also make sure you've got your officers placed in positions where you can assault with speed and aggression.
  • Attempt to raise communication with the hostage, and try to get eyes on the situation (via cameras, sniper, etcetera).
  • Conduct an immediate assessment ASAP:
    1. Is the situation stable, or is it escalating?
    2. Is the suspect acting erratically? Is he showing signs of mental instability?
    3. Is he communicating with the station crew?
    4. Are you able to get eyes on the situation and monitor it?

This is the first junction you'll come across. Your options at this moment are a hasty assault, or initiating interaction with the suspect. If the situation is escalating without your control, then you are forced to push a hasty assault. Much the same, if the suspect is unstable, you will most likely have to push for a hasty assault (specially if you cannot get comms working or you cannot get eyes on the situation to ensure in the safety of the hostage). The rest may lead into a planned assault: if you can get eyes but no comms, then plan an assault for as long as you can visibly see the hostage being safe, for example.

 

[*]If you are able to get comms with the suspect, and the situation is stable (or deescalating), then a hasty assault is no longer the preferred solution. You should now be working the suspect via comms in an attempt to bring about a peaceful solution, while having security prepare a plan B, in the form of a planned assault. (Note that as security is preparing, they should still be able to roll at a moment's notice.)

[*]Discern the suspect's motives, their demands, etcetera. Basically: negotiate. This will pretty much lead into the final outcome:

  • If you are able to talk the suspect down, then great! Make sure you can safely swarm the area with sec, arrest everyone, and job done!
  • If the suspect's demands are ridiculous and they are not budging, then see if there's any ruse you can use to make a planned assault even more effective. For example, if they want the station nuke: present the nuke to them, drawn them out, and snipe them or swarm them. Obviously you're not going to actually give them the nuke, but you have to make it believable. Sell it to them, as if you were a buttersmooth salesman.
  • If the suspect's demands are reasonable (or you can talk them down from being unreasonable), consider an exchange with a surprise. Or some other solution akin to that.
  • And remember, if for whatever reason the situation escalates to the point where you risk losing control over it, you push the assault button.

 

Is this complex? Yes. But such complexity is what makes good roleplay.

And the lowest common denominator is not something you should be holding yourself to.

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Is this complex? Yes. But such complexity is what makes good roleplay.

And the lowest common denominator is not something you should be holding yourself to.

 

Imagine my surprise to seeing this finally being said.


It'll be interesting to see this be enforced, at the very least. More or less, I'm expecting a good portion of the current security playerbase to not read this.


Half of the job regarding negotiation is to stall for as much time as possible, to slowly slip the advantage away from the prospective criminal and back into the hands of the handling security force. Unfortunately, due to how unstable and excessively committed antagonists can be, LWAPs, flashbangs and other very useful tools will often be the chosen course of action in regards to barricaded suspects holding innocents hostage. Diplomacy is only as much of an option that the suspect wishes to make it, peace is completely off the table as soon as the suspect brings harm to the only leverage they have.

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The psychology is: If you make some ways of antagonist play acceptable, by not having sec shoot them, then you'll start coaching the antagonists towards that mode of play.


If they get shot regardless of the situation (right now), then they won't really care at all.

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I think there are a few mechanical changes we could make to help encourage this philosophy in practise.


The biggest one i can think of, is allowing downed/stunned people to still hold and fire guns, so that preventing a hostage from being executed wouldn't be so easy. Right now the metagame of combat is imo a bit too focused on long stuns, disabling people is easy so a hasty assault is often mechanically wise


A full economy system would also help, especially with regards to quantifying the various costs of medical and psych care

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Informative and thoughtful. But long story short; if you're dumb about where and when you take hostages, expect Security to try and shut you down when they get an opening.


I'll admit I was the one who triggered Skull to go on his rant, and you pretty much identified the cause of that behavior; disillusion with hostage takers that don't play ball and expect to get away scot free when they're neck deep in an enclosed area, surrounded by Security personnel, and in clear violation of several regulations that Security are there to enforce. You can stand there and talk to the hostage taker until you're both blue in the face, most of the time they do not willingly relinquish their hostage peacefully and surrender to lawful authority, and they expect that taking a hostage gives them all the power in the 'Verse to make demands and expect no resistance. But like running at a brick wall, you stop trying so hard when it feels like you're not getting through. The situation that prompted Skull to tip over the edge was given well over ten minutes to develop before anyone made an openly aggressive move to end it, so it's not like 'rush the guy' even was the first plan.


On the Security side, I dislike the attitude that yielding to demands is preferable to shutting down the situation entirely, but I know that's the tactic of, say, jewelers and banks. They tend to not resist in any way during the robbery, but they have heavy insurance policies and massive profits that casual robberies barely scratch, so the loss is acceptable. But paying off every merc who puts a gun in a civvies face gives off the impression that NT is an easy target. And, personally, I just dislike deception; faking co-operation just to set up an opportune backstab is definitely a cunning way to try and protect assets and minimize costs; I just find it distasteful, and play that out as a character preference. The strategy of deception comes with a different set of risks to the well timed assault rush, but is in no way guaranteed to minimize losses. I can think of examples where 'playing along' introduces more risk and cost; yielding an aggressors isolation and risking further crew harm, increasing chance of aggressors escape, potential loss of ransom funds, or pure dishonorable spite wherein a hostage taker is given a chance to flee but still kills their hostage first.


Even when you have a gun to a civilians head, the legitimate power and the authority to use it still rests in the hands of Security, aswell as responsibility for outcomes. Would it be nice if things could more often be resolved without assaults? Yes. Will Sec players still take the opportunity to end a hostage situation with force if the aggressor gives them an opening? Yes, they will; because it may be risky, but a swift resolution can often result in minimal losses if pulled off right. More non-violent resolutions requires co-operation from antag players too though, requiring them to let go of their expectation of being super slick badasses that get away with everything. Either Security or the antag has to yield for a peaceful resolution; in my mind, it should fall to the antag to submit more often than for Security to completely fail at their jobs. 'Release the hostage and we'll let you walk away' is a tactic that sometimes gets played, and rarely accepted by antags. The times that Security do fail their jobs should stand out as examples of a well played antag who planned and made preparations, rather than hastily taking the first person they see at gunpoint, or taking a hostage as an act of desperation, and expecting it to go off without a hitch.


The hostage taking we see is usually the latter type, acts of desperation by an aggressor with rapidly diminishing options and an unwillingness to yield, which usually forces a conflict to resolve. Which, as you pointed out, makes both parties less willing to try and play it out without confrontation in future. I swear this 'hostages' thread comes up every couple of months.

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For reference, in that development, your involvement was null. I say this, because hey, I just now finished reading the logs of the entire round. All you did was assert your dominance, and didn't even make a single solid attempt to communicate with the suspect who had now barricaded himself. While there are situations where the suspect is indeed uncooperative, and indeed cannot be talked down, this is not how a head of staff should handle any such situation. But hey, let's move away from singular incidents, there are staff complaints if you wish to pursue my ruling on that situation.


I will maintain: if you are presented with a situation where the hostage taker is confirmed as completely uncooperative, then yeah, sure. A planned assault is the only reasonable approach in such a case.


But do not confuse the possibility of a situation devolving to a planned assault as giving you a green slip to forego any and all attempts at other resolutions. You have to attempt to communicate with the suspect, and assess the situation correctly. If you do not, then, well.


The two legitimate points I want to address in what you said:

Even when you have a gun to a civilians head, the legitimate power and the authority to use it still rests in the hands of Security, aswell as responsibility for outcomes.

This is true. And be prepared to actually be judged on this. Remember this: in order for an assault plan to be initiated, you need to be 100% certain that any other solution is unfeasible or too costly. Reluctance to work these situations is not acceptable. Bullheadedness and tunnel vision in pursuit of an assault is not acceptable.

 

Will Sec players still take the opportunity to end a hostage situation with force if the aggressor gives them an opening? Yes, they will; because it may be risky, but a swift resolution can often result in minimal losses if pulled off right.

Deeply flawed thinking, coming from an individual who should have some degree of tactical sense. (Or roleplay sense.)


Learn what situational control means, looks like, and feels like. It does not mean that you have your taser in the enemy's back and the situation resolved. Oh no, it means that you can effectively end the situation by saying a single word over comms, and call it a day. As long as you are in control of the situation, you can attempt alternate solutions. This means that the situation is stable. As long as the situation remains stable, and you have the capability to launch an assault at a whim, you should be looking to negotiate with the hostage taker to, at the very least, ease their mind and get their finger off the trigger. Though your end goal should be trying to talk them down. During a stable situation, you should be doing everything in your power to further minimize the risk involved.

 

The times that Security do fail their jobs should stand out as examples of a well played antag who planned and made preparations, rather than hastily taking the first person they see at gunpoint, or taking a hostage as an act of desperation, and expecting it to go off without a hitch.

Security can fail in epic proportion even when the hostage situation is "technically" resolved. If a more peaceful alternative would have existed, and the security team remained ignorant of that solution, then that is failure by bad judgement. If the security team pushed an assault which resulted in the death of any personnel involved, hostage taker included, (and the situation wasn't literally FUBAR,) then security failed in the execution of tactics. The list of classes of failures is long.


And the thing about hasty situations is, they should be the easiest to resolve via words and the threat of violence. If you read further into my source article, you'll see that even unintentional barricades can take anywhere from 0 to 2 hours to resolve. And I can bet you that a good majority end with simple arrests because the dude is ultimately convinced that he will be better off alive and in cuffs, than dead. You do have to talk to the hostage taker first, though.

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What if I am a robust individual who knows mechanics better than most of the playerbase, and I am 100$ sure I can flash the hostage and throw-baton the hostage-taker without any casualties, and I can actually succeed every time? How does this affect me? Mind you, there is "roleplay", as some people would say: combat-RP is still RP and detainee/ex-hostage RP is also RP.



Unless I'm missing something by blindness and/or ignorance, I see it's just theoretical stuff instead of clear "what do/what do not do and eventual punishment".


Edit: I'm apparently blind. But a simple TL:DR version would be nice, too.

Edited by Guest
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Unless I'm missing something by blindness and/or ignorance, I see it's just theoretical stuff instead of clear "what do/what do not do and eventual punishment".

http://puu.sh/pVcrv/38b4585ff8.png


Did I mess up my phrasing somewhere, or is this not a textbook (slim version) on how to handle these situations by enlarge?


I already issued my mods and admins instructions to enforce this guide as the standard to meet. From that post, it's very simple to form the following expectations:

  • Attempt communication.
  • Attempt any solution other than an assault.
  • If no other viable solution exists, RIP.

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What if I am a robust individual who knows mechanics better than most of the playerbase, and I am 100$ sure I can flash the hostage and throw-baton the hostage-taker without any casualties, and I can actually succeed every time? How does this affect me? Mind you, there is "roleplay", as some people would say: combat-RP is still RP and detainee/ex-hostage RP is also RP.



Unless I'm missing something by blindness and/or ignorance, I see it's just theoretical stuff instead of clear "what do/what do not do and eventual punishment".

 

I am not sure if you are kidding or serious right now.


Even if you are a totally robust guy who is 100$ sure that he can flash the hostage and throw-baton the hostage taker, forceful resolution is not the first way to go.

And what you propose is a unplanned assault (which is the last way to go)

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there are staff complaints if you wish to pursue my ruling on that situation.

 

I've no need to follow up with a complaint; I actually appreciate feedback. The thing that irked me was that you saw fit to begin Admin PMs over something I said, while the situation was still being played out. I don't remember the exact phrase but it was tantamount to 'I'll go prepare for the worst and if shit happens then we have medical' while the BBI guys tried their angle, and that apparantly triggered you to message me. But because I was talking to you after that I essentially had to completely remove myself from the scene as it developed just to respond to you properly. I don't mind being criticized, but it was a complete interruption over one uttered phrase in a scene I was basically overseeing from the rear.


It's not like I was on an assistant killing spree and needed to be immediately stopped. It was a whisper. And seeing as it wasn't an actual infraction of rules but rather a 'bad roleplay critique', such points can be better made on forums anyway.

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So you, and no one else is caught by surprise: bad judgement, coupled with failure to improve, as a head of staff will end in the removal of a command whitelist. And has done so in the past. Take critique of leadership ability seriously, if offered by moderators or administrators.

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I am very happy that Skull made this post. I have found many times as a Captain during Antag rounds that Security just want to shot and win. I TRY to be friendly and talk to the antags most of the time, but there are times I come in and its a bit too late. In any case, I am very happy that you posted this Skull, I believe all players, not just those who play a security so they can get updated.

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I was the HoP once and I wanted to talk to the Wizard but Security just wanted to brutally arrest them, this lead to Security trying to arrest me for interfering with their operations, and I actually ended up getting SHOT with rubber bullets by security.

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I'll throw my outdated 2 cents in:


Usually, hostage situations are handled poorly because of 2 Facts:


1) Idiot officers who ignore the HoS's orders and move in for 'muh hero glory'


2) poor preparation/judgement by command at that time.


It is always best to attempt to have a peaceful resolution, or, on the other hand, stall them long enough for security to get ready and in position. People who's mantra is 'We don't negotiate with terrorists' are the incompetent fools who have no clue what the hell they're doing.

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