Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Manzo of Fort Hood’s Criminal Investigation Division had been on the line for nearly an hour, attempting to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
“Let’s be honest here Brian. Tell me about your wife. Tell me about your kids.”
His hands were bridged against his forehead, thumbs massaging his temples while he waited for a response.
Though the scenario was a training exercise, it was intense.
Manzo was speaking with Brian over a piece of equipment known as a throw phone, a type of ruggedized speakerphone which has been deployed by the Fort Hood Special Reaction Team, the military police equivalent of special weapons and tactics.
Manzo’s headset and the throw phone were connected via hardwire, trailing through the open window where Manzo sat, outside, down the wall, across the lawn, and into Brian’s smashed kitchen window.
The exercise had been underway since 9 a.m., when a military police patrol responded to a call involving a man who had barricaded himself in his home in Chaffee Village, inside an area of homes reserved for military police training.
They arrived just in time to see the man flee his car and dash into his house.
Moments later a woman exited the home, but she wasn’t fast enough. Brian caught her on the lawn and dragged her back inside, slamming the door shut behind them. He was armed.
Capt. Jonathan Caylor, the supervisory training officer and Special Response Team training officer for the Fort Hood’s Department of Emergency Services surveyed the events with extreme scrutiny. Not even he knew the outcome.
“It all depends on their performance,” Caylor said. “It’s based off of what the negotiations are able to achieve, it’s based off of what the tactical team is able to do. If they’re not meeting their tactical training points then they are going to have other various stimuli given to them to help them get through the mission.”
The team was completing its quarterly certification in conjunction with the 89th Military Police Brigade’s patrol members and Fort Hood’s Criminal Investigation Division.
What separated this training Dec. 13 from team certifications of the past was the team usually conducts its training without the support of outside organizations, Caylor said.
“When it comes time to respond to a real world incident, we’re all going to all be responding together,” Caylor added. “If we’re not training for that together, then we’re going to be leaving the installation vulnerable.”
This change in tactics came about in part due to the observations of Lt. Col. David Stender, the installation provost marshal, who made it a priority to include other organizations in the team training.
“I quickly saw with the incidents that we were receiving (they) didn’t really practice us the way we wanted to,” Stender said.
The team conducted its first joint certification exercise in November, making this its second time training in conjunction with the installation’s other law enforcement agencies.
“Each time it’s gotten better,” Stender said.