IMPD negotiator keeping eye on Alabama hostage situation


Hostage negotiators are working hard to bring about a peaceful resolution to a hostage situation in Alabama and their counterparts in Indianapolis are watching developments closely.

While some of the tactics, like publicly thanking the gunman, may seem questionable, a local negotiator says it's part of a bigger plan to end the standoff peacefully.

"It is heartbreaking. It is horrible," said a concerned mother, Laura.

Laura is closely watching the hostage negotiations to free five-year-old Ethan from an underground bunker.

"You pray that the child will be returned safely to his family soon," Laura said.

Eyewitness News shared one of the latest news stories on the suspect with IMPD hostage negotiator Det. Chester Price. In his 10-plus years on the force, Price has successfully negotiated the end to hundreds of standoffs, many of them involving officers from the SWAT team.

"That is the one thing we want to reassure the person, is that we are not here to do some dramatic bust-in. That is the last thing we want to do," said Price, who belongs to a national negotiators organization.

Price says it's a plus anytime you can talk with a hostage taker and keep them calm.

Since Ethan's kidnapper has reportedly shot and killed the boy's bus driver. Price's experience says negotiators must stay focused. Since the suspect is watching television, messages to him from police must be carefully planned out.

"He has allowed us to provide coloring books, toys. I want to thank him for taking care of our child," said Dale County (Ala.) Sheriff Wally Olson.

"The fact that they are letting everyone know he is cooperating with us helps and if he is watching us on TV, it is to send a message back to him," Price said.

Price, who teaches hostage negotiation for IMPD and other police departments, says no matter how the situation with Ethan ends, it's one people who do his job will use as a teaching tool to work towards a peaceful end.

Price hopes the outcome is a good one for the boy's family.