Hostage negotiator says corrections officer was calm, did 'a fantastic job'


Lt. Jeff Cole of the Warren Police Department said the experience of negotiating with three Trumbull County inmates Wednesday afternoon who were holding a corrections officer hostage in the jail was unique for him.

“We do monthly training. I don’t think we every covered this, so I’m sure there will be some training issues that we’ll be mindful of during our next few sessions,” he said Thursday morning.

Trained hostage negotiators like him realize “every situation is different,” so they go in prepared to deal with what comes their way, he said.

“It will take a minute to digest, and I’m sure my team ... the negotiating team will take this all into consideration, come up with maybe a game plan for that exact situation.”

Sheriff Thomas Altiere Wednesday night credited Cole with being the main negotiator who convinced David Martin, Kevin Johns and Richard Ware to give themselves up and release the corrections officer they held for five hours.

Altiere plans to hold a press conference this morning to talk further about the incident.

The inmates were transferred out of the jail just after the situation ended, and new charges against them are likely to be filed relating to the standoff.

The three inmates were being held in an isolation area on the fourth floor of the jail when the situation began around 3:30 p.m. The officer was attacked and overpowered by the inmates, who had a homemade knife that they at times held against his neck. They also had his radio, handcuffs and cell phone.

The officer was uninjured.

Cole said he talked to the corrections officer during the ordeal. Cole and another hostage negotiator were in a room separate from the inmates and the officer, talking to them on the corrections officer’s portable radio and his cell phone.

“The officer, he was calm. He did a fantastic job. For being in the situation he was in, he did a fantastic job. I had the opportunity to meet him when this was over.”

Cole said his main emotion when the standoff ended about 8:30 p.m. was gratitude. “It was a grateful feeling,” he said.

But what he did was nothing heroic, only the end result of a desire to see everyone end their day safely.

“That was compassion for that officer who found himself in that situation, and I just tried to do everything I could to get him out unharmed, the rest of the responding officers ... unharmed, and the inmates themselves unharmed.”

The five hours he spent on the situation on top of his regular work day made for a long day, but Cole said he was prepared to stay as long as necessary.

“One thing with negotiations, and we preach this, that time is always on our side, the longer it goes the better, so time was not a problem for me, ready to engage as long as we had to engage.”

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