With new leadership in the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) Marine Patrol, the agency wants to ensure they are ready for anything. To prepare, the M.D.M.R. hosted a hostage drill out on the water.
Tactical negotiations were radioed between M.D.M.R. boats on Back Bay in Biloxi as F.B.I., M.D.M.R., and city police officers played the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in a mock hostage scenario. In the scenario, an M.D.M.R. officer boarded a recreational boat to do a safety check and found marijuana. Keith Davis, the Chief of Marine Patrol for the M.D.M.R., says, “At that time, a struggle ensued between the captain of the ship and my officer. My officer was overtaken by the two gentlemen that are on the boat.”
As negotiations continued, leaders say training and communication were key to successfully freeing the M.D.M.R. officer. Jeffery Artis, an F.B.I. agent, says, “The teams that said, ‘Hold on, let’s role play before we do this.’ So they actually looked at each other and took on the role of the individual in crisis and the negotiator, which was excellent.”
Officials say the negotiation went so smoothly because of communication and cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies. Davis also says, “When law enforcement responds, we respond, and it doesn't matter what badge you're wearing, we're all one, and that was truly represented today.”
Tuesday was also about learning how to improve operations for future real life scenarios, such as having two tactical teams instead of just one. Shannon Massey of the Pascagoula Police Department says, “That way, we could rotate in and out, because if the situation were to turn critical and we had to have made a boarding or an assault, would our guys have been too fatigued to do what they need to do?”
At the end of the drill, the agencies were de-briefed, thankful this wasn't a real life situation, but better prepared for a real one.