Episode 9

Ep. 09 | SWAT Team Hostage Negotiation with Terry Tucker

Terry Tucker worked as a hostage negotiator on a SWAT team for the Cincinnati police department. As a hostage negotiator, Terry’s job was to talk with people in critical situations as they pointed a gun at themselves or somebody else, trying to diffuse the situation and keep everyone safe.

During our conversation, Terry shares some unique experiences he had on the police force and how his life experience prior helped in his interactions with citizens. He also shares things he’s learned in regards to interacting with others in stressful situations and how that correlates to everyday life. Through his experiences as a hostage negotiator and then during his battle with cancer, Terry has honed in on 4 core truths which he shares to help you achieve the highest fulfilment in life.

Check out his blog at www.motivationalcheck.com.


Terry: I was a SWAT team hostage negotiator for the Cincinnati, Ohio police.

Seth: Okay, so pretty big metropolitan area. and I bet you saw some incredible things, but I'd like to back up, what made you interested in that? Or how did you get into that career field?

Terry: Yeah. You know, you look at my resume, it looks like I'm all over the place. When I graduated from. I was in the marketing department with Wendy's international, the hamburger chain in their corporate headquarters. And then I went into hospital administration and it wasn't until after that, that I kinda made the pivot and became a police officer.

Illinois police officer from:

s face it. Trauma medicine in:

Terry: You're going to get out, get a great job, get married, have 2.4 kids and live happily ever after. And, but that's what my dad wanted me to do. That's not what I felt my passion or my purpose was. And so when I graduated from college, I had a decision to make my dad was dying of cancer. So I could be like, you know what, sorry, dad, I'm going to go blaze my own trail and be a police officer or out of love and respect for you.

Terry: I will do what you want me to do and go into business. So you kind of understand now where my resume is. And I did, I went into business for my dad and I sorta joke I did what every good son did. I waited till my father passed away and followed my own dreams. And I was a 37 year old rookie police officer, which.

Terry: Most accounts people would say is old to be getting into that line of work. That's the downside, the good side was I had some life experience that I brought to the job that I was able to talk to people of all different ethnicities of all different backgrounds of all different socioeconomic situations.

Terry: So that helped me be more successful. Long story short, the SWAT team had a, an opening for a negotiator. And so I always wanted to be part of the best SWAT on most most metropolitan police departments is the best. They get the best officers. They get the best training, they get the best equipment.

Terry: And so when that opening happened, I put in for it. And as they say, the rest is history.

Seth: Wow. I love what you said. you were the good son, you did what your dad wanted you to do until he passed away. And then you followed your heart. I think that's interesting though, because, My last conversation, we were talking about how important community is and how we're not, we're not people who are just alone. we don't make decisions in a vacuum. And I think that's interesting because. if you just want to do what you wanted to do, you'd go and follow your heart, do your own thing. But this is a side note, but it might tie into what we're talking about later. What impacted your decision to do business, do what your dad wanted to do. and did you feel more or less fulfilled in that? Did you feel like you were just trapped? How was that feeling? Doing something for the family more or less, because it was kind your dad's vision because. They had gone through that scare with the law enforcement. They'd gone through that trauma.

Seth: And so they, couldn't ham or he couldn't handle you in the line of duty, Cause it probably brought back a lot of traumatic memories. How was that for you?

Terry: Yeah.

Terry: I was very fortunate my story is not I grew up in a dysfunctional family and so I did I'm the. The three boys you can't tell this from looking at me, but I'm six foot, eight inches tall, and I played basketball in college. have a brother who's six foot seven, who was a pitcher for the university of Notre Dame.

Terry: Another brother who's six foot six who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the national basketball association. And then my dad was six, five. So I joked that if you sat behind our family and church growing up there, wasn't a prayer's changed. We're going to see anything that was going on. parents really are they taught us the value of family and the importance of family and did what I used to call the divide and conquer parenting. was like, Terry's got a game over here. Dad's going to that. Larry's got a practice over here. Mom's going to that.

Terry: So we were always running in a million different directions. But our whole family was about loving each other, caring about each other, supporting each other in the different things that we did. It really, wasn't a hard decision for me was I fulfilled. No, not in the least. But it wasn't a hard decision because my dad and my mom.

Terry: I loved them to death. I would do anything for them. I would have done that taking care of my dad for 50 years, if that's what I needed to do because he and mom did that for us. And so when it came to the decision it wasn't a fulfilling decision, but it wasn't a hard decision because my dad and my mom were always there for us.

Terry: And now it was time for us to step up and be there for them.

Seth: I love that answer. I, and I don't know each person's life is individual. And I don't know if there's right and wrong answer, but I love that answer that you gave because there's also the aspect that you do need to follow what your. What you're meant to be. I don't want to sound like, oh, you have a destiny, you have a what you're supposed to be doing, but we all have different different characteristics, different skills, different talents.

Seth: And when you're doing what you love, then you're most fulfilled because you're actually living in your zone of genius as it's sometimes called. So yeah, I love your answer. Does I was curious about that. I do have one question though. How tall is your.

Terry: 5 8,

Seth: Wow. So you,

Terry: but I'm telling you, mom was the boss. Didn't matter how big, tall, strong we were, whatever mom said, that's the way it went. My goodness. That's crazy. I love it. I love it. So yeah. So 37, you went into law enforcement. How long were you law enforcement before you went into the hostage negotiator?

Terry: About, I don't want to say I'm going to say about four or five years somewhere in that new.

Seth: Okay. So during that time, did you get, what were the experiences like for you? What was it cause like you said, you had life experience. So that's definitely a benefit when you're on the street. I read a book I'm getting ahead of myself now. I was listening to an audio book with my.

Seth: Several years ago now. And it was by a police officer who was talking about all about communication and how it's not taught to a lot of police officers. And of course you and I both know the experiences of last couple of years George Floyd, and all of that mess has highlighted some issues in the police force.

Seth: We need the police force, like it's incredible and the bravery that these people Liv on a daily basis is an incredible, I have the highest respect for them people who have actually worked in there who care about the profession, care about the field, they have seen how the communication skills can be lacking.

Seth: And you know how the whole idea is. Come home with the same amount of holes as you left it's all about protect yourself and not so much communicating. And that's why I really am excited to talk to you because your whole job became communication, but how was it working as a police officer, just in the field showing up to random calls for those first couple of years, how was that?

Terry: Yeah.

Terry: It was certainly a learning experience. I had some life experience, but I also you become aware of. Situations you have a feel for things. I, my, I ran a beat with a partner and Cincinnati pretty much ran single-person cars, but we were the car that was sorta held out and reserved for the gun runs in the shootings and stabbings and all the ugly kind of things, because we were a two person.

Terry: And I was lucky. I was really teamed with a woman from my academy class who was also older when she got into the job, she had a master's degree in counseling and we always were w we let our relief in almost every category traffic tickets, written, felony arrest, guns, recovered, dope, recovered, wannabe all that kind of stuff that the department.

Terry: And we were two white people running an entirely black African-American beat, and we never got complained on. And I think the reason we didn't was because we know how to talk to people I, and I'll give you, I'll give you two quick example. One night we were looking for a Ford Bronco, a white Ford.

Terry: And another another officer had pulled over a car that it was a Ford Bronco. It was not the people we were looking for, but it had four black males in it. And it was a, it was for a fairly violent crime. They had they'd committed a car jacking, but it was not the people we were looking. And the driver just kept asking, why did you stop me?

Terry: Why did you pull me over? And this was a young officer and the officer was like, you know what? I don't need to tell you that just, it's not, you get out of here. And it was like, oh my God, you idiot. Why are you not telling this person why you did what. And so my partner had went up and said, look, here's why we stopped.

Terry: You were stopped. Here's what we're looking for. You are not the person. Thank you very much for your cooperation. Have a safe night. You're free to go. And he was like oh, okay. Thanks. I appreciate that. Just communicating why we did what we did. Did we have to know, was it smart to do it? Yes, because you don't want to turn a yes.

Terry: Person into a note person just because you're having a bad day. So that was one conversation. Another incident that happened. We had in a different beat, but still in, in our district, they were chasing a car chase. It was a vehicle pursuit. We were second in the pursuit. The guy went down a cul-de-sac a dead end bail from the car and took off.

Terry: We didn't catch him, but we had the car. This was three o'clock in the morning. We park our car. We get out, there's a guy sitting on the porch and he's you hit my car. Excuse me, sir. Those officers over there, they hit my car. We looked at his car there was not, it was pristine, there was no damage to it whatsoever.

Terry: And so we went up to them and we were like, Hey, this guy is saying you hit their car. Now they got indignant. Like we didn't hit his car few choice words that I will not repeat on air and went off with Worley and we looked at her. Call a boss, send a, bring a boss to the scene, let the boss take a picture of the car, let a boss interview this man.

Terry: We don't need to do that. I'm like, you're right. You don't need to do that. But I'm telling you right now, when we leave here, this guy's going to go inside his house and he's going to take a hammer out and he's going to make his car look like you plowed into it. And the department and the city is going to get him a new car.

Terry: Now, a way to stop that is to call boss. So either you do it or we do it, but it's your run. You decide how you want to handle it. Why don't you just do the easy thing? Why are we making this so difficult? Just call a boss, Basile, talked to him, take pictures of the car. If the guy makes a claim, it's no, we investigate and he's lying.

Terry: We have pictures. Like why would you not take yourself out of the jackpot before you even get into it? But again, that's communication. That's maturity. That's younger officers who don't want to, or somehow think this isn't a front to their. It's not the guy's a liar. He's a liar. Just prove that he is so that you don't get in trouble.

Seth: Yeah, exactly. And it's not diminishing your ego in order to do that because I think that's another thing that gets in the way people's egos. And they're like and I say this, I'm not an officer. I don't have any law enforcement experience I've dealt with a couple of traffic speeding stops.

Seth: And sometimes there are the really nice officers that come up and they're like you're. 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, whatever. And I was, oh man, you do your interaction. It's great. But then you have some who come up and you can just tell they're on a power trip. And that's where, and I'm saying this from a citizen's perspective it just elicit so much Yeah, just helplessness.

Seth: And for me I, thankfully I'm of a demographic I'm just being real on this podcast. I'm white, I'm male. I'm a demographic that is not at risk, so I've never had anxiety when an officer comes up except for how much is this going to cost? But it's funny because I think it's interesting cause I'm living in Iceland right now.

Seth: I'm an ex-pat at the moment and. Just learning about law enforcement here in Iceland was really fascinating to me. Because police officers here in Iceland have to have a bachelor's degree in, in police. I don't even know what the degree is called. But anyway for becoming a police officer and in it, they have to take studies on cross-cultural awareness, communication all these things that.

Seth: Create a more of a balanced police officer instead of somebody who is okay, here's some self defense tactics. Here's how to shoot a gun. Here's how to do stops and stuff. I think it's been a huge benefit, and you can see that with Icelandic society. But I don't know this isn't necessarily the podcast to talk about how we can change the police force.

Seth: Cause I really want to get into your amazing stories, but it's interesting to hear you talk about that. Good to be aware of, and for somebody who's interested in in a career in law enforcement some things that they can do to help prepare themselves and some things that they should be aware of before they go into that career.

Seth: Speaking of which, if you were talking to somebody, if our listener was thinking about a career in law enforcement, what would be some things you'd say to them as they consider.

Terry: I'd say a couple things, first of all, if you really want to do this job and you want to be successful at this job, put your devices down, go out and talk to the homeless guy on the. Go up to the penthouse and talk to that person, because if you can talk to those different demographics, those different sort of fringes of society, you'll be successful at this job.

Terry: You can't text your way through an investigation. Sorry. You need to talk to people. You need to understand what people are lying to or trying to lie to. You're trying to manipulate the situation. So that's the first thing I'd have to say, because I think you hit on a. Being successful in anything you do in life involves adequate or appropriate communication.

Terry: And if you don't have that, you're not going to be successful and you're going to be frustrated. The second thing I would say to those per those people is this, think about this job in this regard, you make whatever job you're doing right now. If you made less money than a plumber, every nobody wanted you there.

Terry: And everybody aligned to. How long would you continue to do that job? And most people would like, I wouldn't even get into that field, but that's what law enforcement is. You make less money than a plumber when you get to the scene, nobody wants you there. Like you said, you're either pulling somebody over for speeding or you're answering a radio run to somebody's house for a domestic, or you're knocking on the door saying call the hospital, grandmother died and they can't get ahold of you.

Terry: Nobody wants the cops there. So that's the second thing. And then everybody likes. Everybody lies too. Everybody's trying to get their story to be the one you believe. So you take the other person to jail. So if that was your job every day, would you want to go to that job? Would you want to do that job unless you had a calling unless you wanted to serve in some fashion?

Terry: I don't think most people would. So think about that before you get into it, because nobody likes it. Nobody wants you around and people are going to call you all kinds of names. And if that offended, you. And the other thing and you hit on it a minute ago, the power trip when I pulled somebody over in a car, I had to remember that for them, this may be the most scary, frightening nervous thing that's ever had, that happened to them all year.

Terry: For me, it's the third traffic stop in the night. You have to keep that in perspective and understand. People are scared. When those red and blue lights go off, even I I'd be like, and I know I'm not going to get a ticket. Cause I'm like it's just kinda one of those things you're not, nothing's going to happen to you, but you still get that feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Terry: So you have to understand that you got to treat people like, Yeah.

Terry: I don't understand. This is scary. And you gotta be nice. Be nice until it's time. Not to be nice. Why do you have to start off being.

Seth: Oh, that's so true. And I think it's funny because I can relate to you in the fact that I'm a nurse and I used to work in the ER. Now I work in the ICU. So for the most part, my patients are asleep. But in the ER, you deal with all sorts of people and you can either start off on the right foot or start off on the wrong foot.

Seth: And if you start off like an aggressive, I'm the. You're here to get help. I'm going to help you, but you have to do what I say. Then it's going to take you a long time to gain that credit back. Because again, it very similar. It's funny that hearing you talk I think about all the experiences I've been through, they come into the ER, they're scared.

Seth: They don't want to be there. And then just. A little bit of I don't know, just humanness yeah, humanity, smiling at them asking how they're doing, just breaking that barrier down, helps them feel relaxed and they're able to communicate effectively and then you can have a good experience together.

Seth: So that is so true and so important. So you became a hostage negotiator. Was there any extra training that you had to go through to do that? How does one become a hostage negotiator? I assume from

Terry: I Pretty much the same.

Seth: Yeah. You have to a cop.

Terry: Yeah.

Terry: Yeah.

Terry: Yeah. SWAT is divided up into two teams, the negotiators and the tactical team and the tactical team are the men and the women who surround the house, have all the big guns and the toys and all that kind of stuff. The negotiators are those.

Terry: They're the ones usually in the mobile home with the bathroom and the drinks and the food and all that kind of stuff. It really, wasn't a hard decision when it came to which side do I want to be on? And I'm joking obviously, but in a lot of ways, that was it. And the negotiators job is basically.

Terry: To try to diffuse the situation. So you don't have to use the men and women with the guns and the toys and all that kind of stuff. So it was really a process. There was a physical fitness. There was a psychological test. There was a meeting with a psychologist, the police psychologist, there were people would talk to your former bosses.

Terry: They would talk to your family and all that kind of stuff. And then they made a decision. Yes. We want to bring you on or no, we don't. And we trained with with a psychology. And our training was basically scenario based. We would let's try this let's you know, and you act as the hostage, you S as the hostage taker, I'll be the negotiator.

Terry: And I will never forget this. When I first started, it was this very simple thing. There was a hostage and a hostage taker behind, excuse me, behind a locked. And I was negotiated and the hostage the whole time was, it was a guy, but he was pretending to be a woman and it was like help me.

Terry: He had this really funny voice and all that kind of stuff. And I spent the entire time talking to the hostage and I totally took the hostage taker out of the equation. And what I learned is and it's a hard thing to do. Is you have to do just the opposite. You have to forget about the hostage, unless you can use it to your advantage in some way, but you have to focus on the negotiation on the hostage taker.

Terry: What do they want, what are their demands? What's your name? What do you want me to call you? Things like that and leave the hostage out of it because it's the relationship between the two of you And the hostage is it's no different than a barricaded person. I don't have a hostage.

Terry: I just barricaded myself with a gun in here and I don't want. Again, you're just talking to that person. There is no hostage in that case. So it was, I totally messed up the first time, but again, that was, that's how we trained.

Seth: And the hostage doesn't have any power weather. So talking to them is pointless in this really critical situation because they can't do anything. That's why they're the hostage. Besides for making sure that they know that you're there to help, that's all you can do with them.

Seth: And you need to focus on the hostage taker in order to get them out of that situation.

Terry: Exactly.

Seth: I'm curious. So your first, do you remember your first ever actual hostage negotiation

Seth: Or was it like a blur lead up?

a movie that came out in the:

Terry: I'm like, no, that's not the way it was. The way it works is it's so many other things, like it's a team effort. So yes, there is one person that is negotiated. With with the hostage taker or the barricaded person. And then there's another negotiator sitting in right next to them, listening to everything that's going on.

Terry: Not saying anything but listening. And then there are three or four negotiators that are sorta what I used to call work in the crowd. They may be talking to the person's mother why are we here? What. What led up to this? Has he had any mental problem? Has he been, is the Daisy, see a psychiatrist or a psychologist all kinds of questions.

Terry: So you may be negotiating with this person, all of a sudden, you'll get a note from the person next to you that says don't talk about his mother. Oh, okay. Because the crowd people in the crowd said, excuse me, that he was, he had a fight with his mother and that's what led him to barricade himself with a gun.

Terry: Oh, good. That's good information to know, because a lot of times you want to play on family Hey, who do you love the most? Your mom, come on. You need to come. Your mom really would have, would she would have a hard time if something happened to you. And but if the fight was about with the mother and that's why

Terry: they're there, you want to take the mother out of the equation. Yeah.

Terry: Yeah

Terry: So that's how it worked and that's kinda how we did what we did. And then you're your negotiating you're negotiating with each other. There was a. I'll never forget a 15 year old kid barricaded himself in this abandoned house with a gun. And we had tried everything to get him out and we didn't know what to do.

Terry: So I I don't think I was talking. I think I was the secondary and we're like, Hey, we'll call you back. And so we hung up, we all got together. We're like, I what do we do? We're talking and there's finally, one of the older guys was. He's 15 years old. Let's scare him. Let's be a pair.

Terry: So we devise a plan where the tactical people are going to break a window and throw in a flash bang grenade, which it doesn't explode like a normal grenade. It basically produces a bright light and a very loud sound. And we're like let's scare him and see if maybe that. And we did. We had the tactical team break, the wind within 10 minutes, a kid was out so it was sometimes you gotta be a parent sometimes you gotta be a spouse.

Terry: Sometimes you gotta act like a boss. You really have to put on different hats depending on how the situation progresses.

Seth: I can imagine. It's hard. How long did you work as a hostage to go to.

Terry: Almost.

Seth: Okay. So by the end of it, did you look back at the beginning and be like, wow, there was so much I had to learn. Was it a pretty marked yeah, I can only imagine. And that's also interesting what you were saying, because I guess in my mind it was the same, I haven't watched that movie, but I thought there was like one negotiator.

Seth: And then of course you had the flash bang team the people who go in and that's interesting that there's a whole group of you who is bringing your expertise and experience and ideas to the table as you're talking to the hostage taker. And like you said, with the 15 year old, you don't always, you didn't always talk.

Seth: Hostage takers, sometimes just people by themselves. Is that correct?

Terry: Yeah.

Terry: a lot of times it more often than not, it was a barricaded person it could have been you robbed a bank and you got caught and you got chased and you went into a house and you barricade yourself or something like that. So it could have been something like that, or just could have been, like I said, as simple as I had a fight with my mom, I'm pissed off.

Terry: I got a gun. I'm not. And the family has done everything they can do. And now it's maybe we ought to call the police and see what they can do, because we can obviously always go in and interdict the situation, but we don't want to do that. We'll give it as much time as we can till we think this isn't working anymore and then it's time to the boys with their toys and you do your thing.

Terry: That was rare. And about 90% of the time. We were successful of getting people out safely, but 10% of the time it ended with usually the person taking their own life. I don't think we ever had an interview where we had to shoot somebody. They would go in and, or they would hear a gunshot or and I can tell you some stories about that where people would actually it's no, I'm not.

Terry: And people would ask us, it's if I come out do I have to go to jail? And we haven't gotten to this yet, but a big part of this is like any relationship husband, wife doctor, nurse teacher, parent, or whatever it is, you're developing relationship.

Terry: And so you, we never lied to people. People would say, I'll come out, but you gotta promise me. I'm not going to jail. Sorry. When you come out, you are going to go to jail, but then we would try to deflect the conversation to say, More positive because there was a very good chance a year from now two years from now, five years from now that we'd be right back negotiating with this same person on maybe the same issue, maybe on something different.

Terry: And if they ever felt we lied to them, if we ever lost that. Then we would have to bring in another negotiator. It's Tucker, I remember you from two years ago and you said this and that was a lie. And my credibility is done. I'm gone. You're going to have to bring in another negotiator because it doesn't matter how much rapport.

Terry: I try to build with him. He's always going to have in the back of his mind, you lied to me before you're going to lie to me again. So trust was a huge issue with is something we had developed with that person. And part of that, and this is where. Emotionally difficult was a lot of times you had to get out in the weeds with these people.

Terry: If I'm negotiating with you and you're yelling and screaming and you're just you're gone. And I say something like, you seem like you're a little mad. I have totally missed what's going on here. I've totally failed to identify the emotion that he's that he's protruding.

Terry: It's yo Yeah.

Terry: man, you just start just pissed as hell. That's getting down in the weeds with those people that's oh, I've identified that emotion that you're oh Yeah.

Terry: Tucker gets me now. Yeah.

Terry: He understands where I'm coming from. If you miss identified the emotion, it's going to take a little time to develop that rapport again, because they're like, you don't Tucker, you're an idiot.

Terry: You don't know what I'm talking about. So just different ways of looking at it.

Seth: Yeah. And just acknowledging their emotion. I don't know if we talked about this, but I actually my wife and I, we had our first. First child, our daughter was born January 30. Yeah. Thank you. So she's three and a half months now. Ish. Yeah, almost coming up on four. And we've been looking a lot into parenting and different parenting styles and you know how we want to parent, because this is our first kid and I think parents.

Seth: It has a lot to do with our conversation that we're having today, because there are so many parents who don't know how to parent. And for instance, if you have a child who's kicking and screaming and crying, same thing, he's experiencing this emotion, anger, frustration, and what do most parents. Stop yelling, stop acting like that.

Seth: If they're in a store stop crying. What is that going to do to the kid? How's the kid going to stop crying some of the, and again, I don't have any experience to say this. So this is all just hypothetical that I've been learning. Some of the parents that I look up to they'll take that kid aside, sit down, you don't get on there.

Seth: Squat down and talk it through with them. Be like I see you're frustrated. I see you're angry. You're very upset. Let's talk about this and actually have that emotional bond as kids because kids need that. They just need to say need to see that their parents are. Understanding what they're going through.

Seth: And then they can work through those emotions. Cause kids have so many emotions, they hit that there's this emotional buildup and they hit things and they're not even mad. They're just like, ah, they just might be frustrated or something. And a lot of the people that you were working with, hadn't learned how to develop that emotional intelligence and be able to.

Seth: Deal with it properly. And so you were like a parent to everybody just having to talk it through. How was that on a personal level? Like you mentioned, you really had to get into the weeds, get you didn't lie, which I think is so important because yeah. You come back and you've just lost all that trust and why lie to people?

Seth: This is something that I wanted to cover as well. What. The end goal for your negotiation? Is it to get them out of the house or is it to keep them safe? Because if you want to get them out. Yeah, no, I'm expound on that.

Terry: Yeah. I think for police officers, our, excuse me, our ultimate goal is voluntary compliance. Do what we ask you to do we may be wrong and and that's why I think you've seen a lot of people that are like screw you. I'm not doing that kind of thing. And it's really, do you want to go there with that?

Terry: If I'm wrong, if I arrested you unlawfully or something like that, there are recourses that you can do. After this is over, but do you really want to get to the point where I'm pointing the gun at you and stuff like that? It doesn't usually need to get to that point, but again, sometimes it's the officer, sometimes it's the citizen and they forced the issue and you get to that point.

Seth: Nigel my other guests just joined. Whoop,

Seth: let's see, sorry about that. He just popped into the studio. Okay.

Seth: Yeah, I'll see if he figures it out. We can email later. So sorry to interrupt you there.

Terry: No, that's fine. I forgot what

Seth: I know

Terry: when you get old,

Terry: you lose your train of thought.

Seth: me too. I just saw him pop in and I was like, oh no. Cause there's only one studio and so he must be trying to upload the finish, uploading the conversation. He rejoined the

Terry: got ya. Anyway, we're yeah, he just. Nope. He didn't email. Wow. I am so sorry. Yeah, I'm trying to remember where.

Terry: That's okay. Don't worry

Seth: Um, but yeah yeah. Do you want to keep them safe or basically, do you want them to come out of the house or do you want to keep them safe in the long run? Because if you want them to come out of the house, you're going to tell them anything to get them out of the house. But if you want to keep them safe in the long run, you're going to be honest with them.

Seth: And even if it takes a little longer to come out of the house you're still going to be honest and upfront because it might affect your relationship later on. think that's

Terry: yeah. W we're not going to just tell them anything to get them out. That's definitely, we want them out. I think a goal of any interaction with a citizen is voluntary compliance. We would like you to do what we ask you to do, and then we'll sort it out afterwards. But again it's your choice.

Terry: I always looked at it like, Yeah.

Terry: 90% of the time getting the person out 10% of the time, the person's. Deciding making the decision to kill themselves to to end their life. And while I felt that was always tragic, the way I looked at it is you're asking me a total stranger to come into a situation that one is dynamic.

Terry: And two very well may have been festering for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years. And it comes to a head on this day and now I'm supposed to come in and two hours, four hours, eight hours, whatever it ends up being. And we'll take whatever time it we need. To resolve the situation.

Terry: That's not realistic it's just, we do the best we can with what we have, but it's just not realistic. And while I always felt it was tragic that somebody ended their life, it was their decision. And again, I did the best I could with the best training and the best people to try to end it safely.

Terry: But again, it's in all honesty, you're in control of how this ends, yeah. I can send in a bunch of people with big guns and end it that. But that's not what I want to do. I would like you to come out and the way, I guess it's an easy, easier way to think about what we do.

Terry: We've all been to the park when we were young and been on a teeter-totter or a Seesaw kind of. When we started negotiating with somebody, their emotional end is way up in the air and their rational side is way, way down on the ground. The first two, three, maybe even four hours, we're not even talking about coming out that's not even something we're even, we don't even mention it because what we want to do is hopefully.

Terry: By asking open-ended questions where they talk and burn off a lot of that emotional energy that's, that teeter-totter, that Seesaw comes to equilibrium. And then hopefully over more time. That their rational end is up in the air and their emotional end is down on the ground because we all make better decisions when we use our rational brain, as opposed to our emotional brain.

Terry: So when we can get to the point where they're thinking rationally, now's the time to talk about putting the gun down and coming out and stuff like that. So there could be hours that go by where you're over here talking about whatever. And the real problem is over here and you haven't even gotten to that yet, but you're developing a relationship.

Terry: You're getting the burn off a lot of that emotional energy you're doing all kinds of things are going on, that everybody thinks of just tell them to come out. No, that's not the time to tell them we know what we're doing. We're good at what we do. Shut up and leave us alone and we'll get there.

Terry: But it, it really is that you're going back and forth with the emotional brain the rational brain, the emotional brain. And when you can get the person thinking rationally, Then you're probably going to have a better success rate of getting them to put the gun down and come out as opposed to they're yelling and screaming and they're hyped up and everything like that.

Terry: That's not the time. They're just going to tell you to go stick it. It's no, they don't want to come out. They want to be heard. And then once they've been heard and once they're done with that. Okay, now, now I'm tired. Think about it when you're emotional, your kid. Eventually your body gets tired.

Terry: Okay. You calmed down a little bit. You're relaxed. Now's the time when that rational brain starts to kick in. Now's the time we can start talking about putting the gun down. And the other thing is we never gave something without getting something. So somebody be like, give me a pizza. What do you do? What do you mean?

Terry: Give me something, I'm not giving you a pizza, unless you're going to give me some, what are you going to get me? It's and again, that's developing trust am I going to give you a pizza? Sure. Give me a magazine out of your gun, give me your gun, give me whatever what can I get from you?

Terry: They'll give me a cigarette, give me a bullet. Things like that. And if they got the cigarette, oh, okay. Tucker said I can have a cigarette. He gave me the cigarette. Okay. Trust, we're developing that relationship. We're getting to that point where now the rational brains kicked in.

Terry: Now we can start talking, Hey, look, John look, just put the gun down and spent a long night. You're tired. I'm tired. What do you think? Don't, you want to see you? Wife, kids, mother, whoever it is they'd like to see you. If I come out, can I talk to you? Yeah.

Terry: I'll come down to the scene.

Terry: We'll talk face to face. Like men you play on that. You're a man, I'm a man let's talk face to face. Let's look each other in the eye and things like that. Whatever you can glean, you can pick up on. But the thing that you got to understand is there were times we went in and negotiated.

Terry: We had no idea why we were there. The people work in the crowd for us. I don't know that. Nobody seems to know why he did this. Nobody. There wasn't a fight. His family has no idea. He just snap. So we have no idea. And that's, that gets hard. That's pick a rabbit hole. Let's go down and see where it goes.

Terry: And if it's the wrong rabbit hole, they'll yell at you. No Tucker, you're an idiot. That's not what I'm talking about. Okay. Totally missed it. Come out of that rabbit hole. Let's pick another one.

Seth: Yeah. I think that's interesting. You've mentioned well, first of all, so how would you give somebody like a cigarette? How did that happen? Cause I assume this is firsthand experience. You did that a couple of times.

Terry: Yeah. I CA it's not all gloom and doom sometimes. They're funny, a quick, funny story. I happen to be working again full disclosure. We were not a full-time. We carried pagers. And so again, I'm really dating myself. We carried pagers. And when the pager went off, you went to wherever the scene told you on the pager.

Terry: So I was working this particular night, so I was in a marked car, was in uniform and I got there fairly quickly. And I'm talking to the district guys. I'm like, what's. He's drunk. He took a gun and he's got his wife barricaded in the house. Okay. You have him on the phone? Yeah, I do. Let me talk to him. So we started talking, we talked for about 10 minutes and I just had a feeling.

Terry: And again, this is totally opposite of everything. I just told you where you don't ask upfront for the person to come out. But I just had a feeling with this guy and I said to him, what would it take for you to come out? There was this long kind of pregnant pause on the other end. And he's give me a beer. If I gave you a beer, do I have your word? You would come out. He's do I have your word? I can drink it. And I said, yeah, I said, do I have your word? You'll come out. He said, yeah, you have my work. So I gave $5 to one of the district guys to get out on the store by. And the tactical team. So the men and the women or at the guns and they have body armor, they have shields, they have ballistic blankets that they can put up on a wall so that if somebody shoots through the wall, it'll be stopped.

Terry: They have all kinds of toys. They put two or three of them had a shield in front of them, went up, put the beer on the front porch and then backed off. And then I called them back and I said, Hey, your beers on the front porch, but you don't. Until your wife comes out, you put the gun down and you come out with your hands up.

Terry: He's do I still have your word that I can drink the beer? I said, you absolutely have my work. So all of a sudden, the front door flies open here comes his wife here. He comes with his hands up. They handcuff him. He could drink the beer off the jelly ghosts.

Seth: Oh, my goodness. That is hilarious. It, you just never know until you try and that worked for him, which I think is interesting because when you were talking about the rational and emotional brain, you weren't dealing with serial killers. Like when you watch these, when you watch these movies, serial killers are very cold calculated.

Seth: They know what they want. They kill people, they don't care. But I feel like what you were dealing with were people who were just emotionally. Into deep they were out of control. That's an assumption, is that correct?

Terry: No. So we did deal with homicide suspects. There were times where somebody get a tip, Hey, there's this guy's wanted for this homicide he's in this building. We would assemble as a SWAT team literally, but we had what it was called, the bear. It was like an armored. We would pull it up to your front porch.

Terry: We would totally ruin your lawn, pull it up on the front porch. And we would talk to you over a loud speaker. John Smith, we know you're inside come out and now you're trying to negotiate with somebody, one who's trapped. And two who knows that more than likely he did commit this homicide and he's going away for the rest of his life.

Terry: So he's got nothing to lose. Absolutely nothing to lose. Those are incredibly high. And a lot of times, those are the people that offer themselves, decide that they're going to commit suicide. I'm not going back to jail. I'm not spending the rest of my life in an eight by 10 foot cell. I'm not doing that.

Terry: I'm going to end my life and be done with it again, tragic because anybody, anytime, somebody who done, I don't care. If you're a serial killer, I don't care of your murder. I don't give your bank bankrupt. Somebody somewhere loves you, somebody somewhere cares about you and why. And that's another thing you got to keep an eye.

Terry: You gotta do your job, you gotta do what you gotta do, but you've got to remember that this was a human being. This just, isn't a piece of meat that we're trying to capture. So Yeah.

Terry: we dealt with homicide suspects all the time where they were barricaded or holed up somewhere and we were trying to find them.

Terry: We got. And we would go there sometimes they weren't there sometimes you're over the PA system and you're trying to get them to pick up the phone for two hours. You know how frustrating that is to try to, Hey, come on John, pick up the phone. We want to tell you, and you're saying that for two hours, you sound like an idiot.

Terry: After about 15 minutes, you feel oh my God, how long has it? But you would do it for hours on the hope that they would. And a lot of times the tactical team would go in there. Wouldn't be anybody there. Sometimes they'd be there and they'd be dead. Sometimes they we gas this. We put in a bunch of CS gas into an apartment and it was bad.

Terry: People like blocks away. We're like, oh my God. And they're sneezing and snotting and all that kind of stuff. And the tactical team went in and the guy was laying face down on the sofa with his face into the cushion. So he wasn't affected by the gas, but he was still alive. They got him that way.

Terry: You deal with all different kinds of.

Seth: Oh, my goodness. Is there one experience that stands out? In any particular way.

Terry: Yeah, there is there, there was a kind of a weird situation, but also a kind of one where if you believe in God and I do. That we're not in control of this. This is a lot of times way above our pay grade. So this started about eight, nine o'clock in the evening. This person wanted to commit suicide.

Terry: So he slid his wrists. That didn't work. And for some reason he thought it was a good idea to turn on the gas in his oven and stick his head in the oven. I didn't work either. So now he's got a gun and he called the family member and the family member was smart enough kind enough, whatever to call the police.

Terry: So we've got the place surrounded. I am talking to him on. It's probably now four o'clock in the morning. And I think he was just exhausted. He was just tired. And w we had developed a good relationship and I said why don't you just put the gun down and come out? I said, look, I'll come down to the scene.

Terry: We'll talk face to face. We'll get this resolved. Everything's going to be okay. Yeah. I'd like to do that. I'd really like to do that. I said then put the gun down. I said, bring the phone with you, but put the gun down. I said, don't hang up. Okay what's he doing hangs up the phone. But that's not uncommon.

Terry: We're conditioned to do that. When a call is over coming something's over. So we didn't think much of it. About 15 seconds later, one of the tactical officers comes over. The radio is we heard a gunshot and I thought, Oh, my God, you didn't. He did shoot himself in the head, but shot himself at such an angle that the bullet went in, shot himself in the temple, went in underneath the skin in his town.

Terry: When around his skull and came out the other side bloody as heck, because it was a head wound, but it never penetrated his skull never got to his brain. So three times this guy tried to kill himself that night, three times God was like, Nope, don't think so. Don't want you right now. You stayed there for awhile.

Terry: But Yeah.

Terry: that was one that I thought, oh my gosh, this guy finally did it. He finally worked up the courage to pull the trigger and he did. was not I, and I'm sure when he woke up in the hospital, I was like, are you serious? this heaven? No, it's the ER, sorry.

Seth: Oh, my goodness. That's crazy at it. It's just that it just blows me away stories like that. Not to mention that whole experience, which is crazy those close range, gunshot wounds where it actually doesn't penetrate the skull and you're just like, wow. Wow. Our bones are so incredibly strong.

Seth: That is amazing. Yeah. Wow. So through, through your work, as a hostage negotiator you learned a ton about communication and working with people. But you've also created a company and I'd like to talk about that before we end this conversation. I just realized it's been almost an hour and the time is flying by.

Seth: But you created motivational check. What is the story behind that?

Terry: Yeah.

e, it had my leg amputated in:

Terry: When God talks to us, it's called schizophrenia. A guy that has never, you know, and as a nurse, I'm sure you understand, you know that you get to a point where it's what should I do? And I don't think God talks to us in that. I Maybe he does to some people, he doesn't.

Terry: But I think what God does is put people in our path that makes suggestions, Hey, you should write a book. Hey, you should read a book. Hey, you should write a book. And some people were like, Hey, you should start a blog. You should. And I'm like, start a blog. I'm 61 years old. I can barely turn my cell phone on in the morning.

Terry: What do you mean? Start a blog. And more people started to recommend that. And I'm smart enough. I think that when more people do that, I should buck up and be like, oh, maybe I'd pay attention to this. So I started this blog called motivational check literally was four pages when I stopped. Took me four months to do it.

Terry: And that's not a lie. I had no idea what I was doing, a blog. I don't even, I can't even spell blog. I don't know how to do this. So I had to learn, I had to go through the process. I'm sure my 26 year old daughter could have done in about 15 minutes, but literally took me four months. And when I it's a motivational type of, I put up a flock for the day, every day.

Terry: And with that thought comes a question about maybe how you can apply that in your. Mondays I put up the Monday morning motivational message, which is a video or a story that I found that is a little bit longer, but it has more impact I think. And so I was looking for. Title, what do I call this thing?

Terry: And when I was in the police academy, our defensive tactics instructor gave us the class, this saying motivational check. So when you were at the end of your rope, you were tired. You couldn't go on, you were hurting, whatever. You could just scream out. Motivational check. And the rest of us would respond with a, an 84.

Terry: We were the 84th recruit class in the Cincinnati police station. Just to let that person know that, Hey, you're not alone, we're all hurting, but we're all in this together and we'll get through it together. So I just thought my motivational check seems like a good title for this kind of a blog.

Terry: And that was back in:

Seth: Wow. I love it. So what is the mission behind it, just to share with a blog or has it expanded to anything?

Terry: Yeah. It started out just with thoughts for the day and now it's. I've been fortunate enough to be a guest on probably almost 500 podcasts around the world where I talk about motivation and the need to keep moving forward. Sometimes we talk about hostage negotiation and stuff like that, which is always a lot of fun.

Terry: And as well and then I ended up writing the book w when I had my leg amputated while I was healing and things like that. And so now there's all the podcasts I've been on are on there. The thoughts for the day are still there. The Monday morning motivational message. There's recommendations for books, recommendations for videos and things like that.

Terry: And I'm getting ready in a couple of weeks, we're going to, we're going live with. With a membership program that is more based on my book in terms of it delves down a little bit deeper into motivation and how you can live an uncommon and extraordinary life, which is really the overarching umbrella of motivational check the blog and my book sustainable.

Seth: I love that. And speaking of, I'd just like to wrap up this conversation. I want you to talk about the four truths that you use to help others lead an uncommon and extraordinary life. I love those in the write-up that you said can we talk about that for a little bit? As we wrap this up,

Terry: Sure. The four truths are just things that I've come to understand mostly over my last 10 years with cancer. I'm they're really a conglomerate of my entire life things that I've experienced, whether it's law enforced. Or athletics or things like that. And they're very simple.

Terry: I am actually on a post-it note right here in my office. So I see them multiple times during the day. They're all one sentence each. So the first one is control your mind, or your mind is going to control you. And I learned that one early in life. When I was 15, I had a couple knee surgeries and I was a pretty good basketball player.

Terry: And I remember when I went back playing basketball my brain was putting all kinds of names. Thoughts into my mind things like, Hey, you're probably a step slower since he's operations and college coaches, aren't going to be interested in recruiting you. And I remember thinking, no, wait a minute, I'm still playing at an elite level.

Terry: And coaches are still reaching out about the possibility of having a scholarship to their college or university. I realized I had to change the narrative. I had to flip the switch to something that w that was more positive. So that's kinda that one in a nutshell, the second one is. Embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experience in life and use that pain and difficulty to make you a stronger and more resilient individual.

Terry: And I guess the way that works for me is pain is inevitable in our lives and it doesn't have to be cancer, pain, or even any kind of an illness you could break up with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, or not get the promotion at work that you think you deserve, or have a fender bender on the way to church whatever it is, we're all going to experience.

Terry: Pain is inevitable suffering. On the other hand, suffering's optional sufferings. What you do with that pain, do you use. To make you a stronger and more resolute individual, or do you wallow in it and feel sorry for yourself and want other people to feel sorry for you? Our brains are hardwired to avoid pain and discomfort and to seek pleasure.

Terry: And I guess what I'm suggesting what that thought is that instead of running from pain, take that pain, flip it inside, burn it as fuel, use it as energy to make you a stronger and more determined individual sets a second. The third one is I guess, more of a legacy truth. I think it's important for all of us, regardless of what stage of life we're in to think about the end game what do you want people to say about your funeral?

Terry: What will people say about you at your funeral? And the third one is this, what you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. And it's interesting when I had my leg amputated and I found out the tumors in my. I went with my wife, to the mortuary, the cemetery and the church.

Terry: And I planned my funeral. And because I give talks in person and I'm on all these podcasts I got some brushed back from people that somehow were like don't you think planning your funeral is some way defeatist and I looked at him like the last time I checked Raul gonna die.

Terry: I don't think anybody's working on a cure for life right now. Everybody died. But not everybody really lives. And I'll end this one with this quote that I heard, it's a native American, black foot proverb that I heard years ago. And it goes like this. When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced live your life in such a way so that when you die, The world cries and you rejoice.

Terry: That's what I want. That's what I'm looking for. So that's number three. And then number four is as long as you don't quit, you can never be defeated. And I think that's pretty self-explanatory, but the way that resonates with me is this someday my pain is going to en may and through surgery may end through some new kind of medication, quite frankly, it man, when I die, but if I quit, if I give up, if I give into.

Terry: The pain will always be a part of my life. So those are the four truths.

About the Podcast

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The Curiosity Shire
People you’ve never heard of. Places you’ve only imagined. Things which may surprise you. Join Seth as he discovers the remarkable people who will educate, inspire, and challenge you with the stories they tell.

About your hosts

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Seth Sutherland


Husband, dad, entrepreneur, and student pilot! Currently living in Iceland and soaking up the adventures.
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Agnes Gretarsdottir


Wife to the man of my dreams, mom to a beautiful baby girl, and lover of all things handcrafted.