East Main Street hostage situation is SRT exercise

May 07, 2010
Santa Paula Police Department

Santa Paula Police snipers set up on rooftops across the street from a building on East Main Street near Mill Street where a man - distraught over a failed relationship and the loss of his business - was holding several hostages.

But the April 29 incident was just an exercise of the SPPD Special Response Team and there was no real danger involved.

According to SPPD Lieutenant Carlos Juarez, the drill was planned well in advance and Explorers distributed bilingual flyers notifying merchants of the exercise. “We didn’t want the merchants to be impacted by the exercise,” said Juarez, so the exercise started at 4 p.m. and lasted until about 7 p.m. when “we went in and debriefed the situation.”

The scenario involved a distraught man on the verge of losing his business to bankruptcy - and his commercial building to foreclosure - and involved in a failed relationship who snapped under pressure. Armed with a handgun, the man took about a half-dozen hostages and barricaded himself in his business building. The situation, said Juarez, is “something you hope never happens, but police train for,” including “active negotiations” with the barricaded hostage taker.

SPPD Explorers and Explorer advisors played the victims, and more than 20 SPPD personnel including Special Response Team officers, tactical dispatch and tactical medics as well as members of Citizens Patrol took part in the exercise.

Tactical medics, said Juarez, are specially trained to be sent to a scene to render medical aid under adverse circumstances. “They are a part of our staff,” and Juarez said the SPPD “actually has four tactical medics in the department.”

At least one business located across the street from the exercise that had not been alerted to the drill was startled when they heard footsteps on the roof of their building. The footsteps were those of SPPD snipers taking part in the exercise.

Juarez said the training went well: “As far as scenarios go, this came to a successful solution.”


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