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Indiana HCN Pioneers
Indiana HCN Pioneers

Indiana Pioneers of Hostage Crisis Negotiation (HCN): Our HCN Roots

By: Thomas N. Davidson, J.D. (HCN Retired)


Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams and Negotiators are common staples of today’s modern police departments.  It is believed that the first use of SWAT as an acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics was the Special Weapons and Tactics Squad established by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1964.  Today most large city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have Special Weapons and Tactical units called by various names as well high-quality trained negotiators.  But, this was not always the case.  Sometimes governments and police departments are slow to embrace new tactics, particularly if there are transactional costs associated with them.  Often it takes some triggering event to cause change.  The hostage taking and murders of the Israeli Olympic wrestling team in 1972 was the impetus for the creation of New York City PD’s hostage negotiation unit headed up by Frank Bolz Jr. and Dr. Harvey Schlossberg.  Many of Indiana’s HCN pioneers received training by one or both of these experts.  Prior to this, the police response was generally to demand that the suspect(s) surrender and stall for time to prepare for a dynamic rescue attempt if the suspect(s) do not comply with the demand.  This may be the reason why SWAT teams emerged first and were given priority in terms of funding, equipment, and other resources over hostage negotiators.

A prominent early SWAT team was established in the Los Angeles Police Department in 1967.  On May 16, 1974 in the afternoon, more than 400 LAPD officers along with Highway Patrol, and the FBI surrounded members of the United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) an American self-styled left-wing revolutionary group active between 1973 and 1975.  The group committed bank robberies, two murders, and other acts of violence including the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst.  The leader of a SWAT team used a bullhorn to announce, “Come out with your hands up!" A young child and a man walked out.  The child stated that several heavily armed people were in the house.  After  more attempts to get the remainder to leave the house, tear gas projectiles were fired into the house. This was answered by heavy bursts of automatic gunfire, and the battle began.  The non members of the SLA left from the rear of the house after the house caught fire from the tear gas canisters.  Other SLA members were either shot by police or died in the fire.  The gun battle, siege, and fire all played out on live TV.  Many in the public, the media, and government were outraged at how the police handled the standoff.  New emphasis toward negotiations was given by many police departments.

Still, New York and Los Angeles was a long way off from the cities and farms in Indiana.  Indiana officials needed their own triggering events to establish special tactical teams and train negotiators; for the State Police it came on the day after Christmas in 1974.  For the then Indianapolis Police Department (IPD), it came in February 1977.

The Napierala Murders

Riley Moses had served three years of a 10 to 20 year prison term for armed robbery when he walked away from the minimum security farm at the Indiana State Prison and stole a .38 caliber revolver from the prison foreman’s home.  He later broke into a house about a mile and a half from the prison where he held Mrs. Marian Napierala, 54, and her daughters Gayle, 19, and Cindy 17, at gunpoint for about six hours.  The state police were alerted by Mrs. Napierala’s 11 year old son who managed to escape through a basement window as Moses was breaking in.  Mr. Napierala and another daughter were away at the time.  State Police Officer Charles Neary was one those negotiating with Moses.  At one point, Neary believed that Moses was going to surrender.  Neary was an experienced investigator and interviewer, but the ISP had no trained HCNs.  During the six hour standoff Moses raped Mrs. Napierala and attempted to rape her daughter Gayle, but the women resisted.  He murdered both of them while the police had the house surrounded.  Cindy escaped injury by hiding in the basement.  After the rape and murders, Moses surrendered to police.  One can imagine the pain of the surviving family members especially at Christmas; and the involved officers have indicated that this case still haunts them.

After this incident, the ISP established its Emergency Response Teams (ERT) and sent several officers to HCN training at the Illinois State Police training academy.  One of those officers was Charles Neary.  Neary retired from the ISP at the rank of Major, Commander of the Investigation Division.  Others that formed the inaugural unit of ISP HCNs included John Mann, Larry McCart, Bill Smith, David Landis, Larry Beach, William Nave, and Arland Boyd.

Tony Kiritsis

Tony Kiritsis had fallen behind on the payments on a mortgage on a piece of real estate.  In February 1977, when his mortgage broker, Richard O. Hall, refused to give him additional time to pay, Kiritsis became convinced that Hall (and his father) wanted the property, which had increased in value and would be sold at a high profit.

Kiritsis went to Hall's office and wired a sawed-off shotgun to his head.  The other end of the wire was connected to the trigger and then to Hall's neck.  Kiritsis called the police from Hall's office and told the police he had taken Hall as a hostage.

Kiritsis held Hall hostage for 63 hours.  During this time, most of which was spent in Kiritsis' apartment, he frequently made calls to 1070 WIBC newsman Fred Heckman, who broadcast what Kiritsis said.  Finally, a lawyer said Hall had signed a document stating that he had mistreated Kiritsis and would pay him $5 million and that Kiritsis would not be arrested and prosecuted.  Kiritsis then held a speech in front of live TV cameras.  His speech became so emotional that some journalists thought he would shoot Hall, so they terminated the live broadcast. Eventually, however, Kiritsis released Hall.  To prove the gun had been loaded, he fired it into the air, and was immediately arrested.  He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.  Since this incident, IPD HCNs have worked countless cases.  One of IPD’s pioneers is Judd Green who negotiated to a peaceful resolution several incidents in Indianapolis.  The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) has one of the best trained and equipped HCN units in the Midwest.

J Cell House

On February 1, 1985, a riot took place at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, then known as the Indiana Reformatory.  An inmate, Lincoln Love #5268, was punished by guards after he refused to vacate his cell during a weapons check, also called a shakedown. Tear gas was used in large quantities in the cellblock.  Inmates John Cole and Christopher Trotter rushed to the maximum restraint unit where the incident with Love had taken place and scuffled with two correctional officers, stabbing both of the officers.  The two proceeded to the infirmary where Love was located and attacked the officers in that area.  They held staff hostage when they took over the J-Cell House.  Department of Corrections (DOC) Emergency Team as well as the State Police Tactical Intervention Platoon (TIP) was mustered and staged.  After the riot was over, inmates had stabbed seven correctional officers and held three employees hostage for 17 hours.  A team of negotiators led by Edward L. Cohn of the Department of Corrections and assisted by David Landis, and I negotiated with the so-called inmate negotiating team, obtained the release of hostages, and finally resolved the J Cell House take over peacefully.

Fugitive Inmate

On January 8, 1989 an armed standoff between the Anderson Police and a hostage-taker ended peacefully after 18 hours of negotiation by Detective Steve Napier and Patrolman Kent Shettle.  William May, a fugitive inmate, overpowered a Madison County Sheriff’s officer.  He later took his estranged wife hostage.  Over 40 police officers were deployed in the standoff.


The stories presented are only a few of the dozens incidents that stretched from Evansville to Ft Wayne and helped develop and evolve the value, tactics, training, and equipment need succeed in HCN.  During the pioneer days, negotiators often worked the negotiations alone and relied on bullhorns, police car public address systems, hard-wired telephones, and even citizen band or police radios.  These modes of communication each had their own issues and risks.  Often incident commanders abrogated their decision making responsibility and desired that the negotiator make decisions such as when to try a dynamic rescue or assault on a barricaded suspect; this put the negotiator in a troubling position of being in pseudo command as well as trying to negotiate with the suspect.  There were often no or low budgets for HCN and negotiators had to make do for themselves.  Because of issues like these, FBI negotiator Steve McVey and I formed a loose association of HCNs to share information and tactics in the late 1980s.  Among these negotiators were Steve Napier of Anderson PD, Judd Green of Indianapolis PD, Gary Barney of Carmel PD, Bill Smith of ISP, and a few others.  Today Indiana negotiators have a real professional association made up of dozens of well trained and experienced negotiators and former negotiators.

Negotiators who join the Indiana Association of Hostage Crisis Negotiators, Inc (IAHCN) can receive the benefit of excellent training during the annual conference and other events.  Retired negotiators can maintain or begin regular membership with the organization.  These negotiators have a lot of information with which they can share with the membership.  The IAHCN Board encourages retired HCNs to apply for membership with the IAHCN.

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    Phone: 317-445-0629


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