Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office shares hostage situation protocol

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been nearly two weeks since 28-year-old Andrew Finch was killed by a Wichita Police officer at his home.

It happened after a prankster called 911 claiming he lived at Finch’s address.

He told dispatchers he killed one person, and was holding others hostage.

Officials with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office can’t comment on the swatting incident since it’s under investigation.

But, they are able to discuss their protocol when handling hostage situations.

It all starts with the phone call to dispatch.

“Depending on the number of persons that may be in jeopardy or in harms way, would depend on the level of officer response,” said Narciso Narvais, defensive tactics training coordinator for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. “If it’s a circumstance that’s an actual violent circumstance, most likely we’ll send more than two officers to that call.”

Narvais says the initial officer on scene is usually the one who tries to make contact with the person believed to be the suspect.

If the situation escalates and there could be a threat or weapons involved, that’s when he says more deputies could be called.

“If it’s a very dangerous circumstance, we may be using telephone or throw phones,” said Narvais. “If it’s a circumstance where we believe we have things controlled and there’s no weapons involved, we may be talking across a doorway or threshold.”

But sometimes he says, the use of force is necessary.

“Are they a threat to us or them? Are they trying to not effectively be controlled? Are they working against us as far as effecting the control? things like that,” said Narvais.

And he says, you must be able to justify that decision afterwards.

“Depending on again, the time compression. If we have the opportunity and there’s a circumstance where I believe the threat is something clear and viable to me, I may directly engage. But, I’d have to articulate and explain what that is. And, that’s where the case law comes into effect. You know, case law doesn’t dictate that we make perfect decisions, but that we do make reasonable decisions.”