HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Guns blazing in a densely-populated neighborhood is a recipe for disaster.
But that was the scene in Philadelphia Wednesday during an hours-long standoff between police and Maurice Hill, a man being served a warrant for narcotics, who then opened fire on officers and injured six of them.
To avoid instances like the one in Philadelphia, every effort is made experts say to plan and prepare well before a knock on someone’s door.
“It could go really bad, really quick…at any time,” said Derry Township Police Officer, Peter Fure, who also serves on the Dauphin County Crisis Response Team (CRT).
He said Thursday that before any warrant is served, it’s crucial to gather as much intelligence as possible both on the subject of the warrant and the area where they might be.
“Especially when you know that you’re dealing with an armed individual, a potentially armed individual, someone with a history of violence,” Fure said. “There is that nexus there involving guns and drugs, the two kind of go hand in hand…one of the tools of the drug trade.”
Fure has served a lot of warrants, and gone through hours of training.
He said his preparation always includes planning for the worst case scenario.
“The route of travel to the home, an avenue of escape, a rallying point should things go bad,” Fure said.
Things did go bad in January 2018 in Harrisburg, when Deputy U.S. Marshall Christopher Hill was killed by friendly fire while serving a warrant; the boyfriend of a woman being served the warrant opened fire on police.
“The only thing that stands between them [the suspect] and jail…is you,” said Pennsylvania Senator Mike Regan, who used to be the Commander of the U.S. Marshalls’ Fugitive Task Force, from 1997 to 2002. “Try to get a grip on, maybe a layout [of the house]…try to figure out if police have been there before. That comes through training, that comes through intelligence, that comes through interviews with informants.”
Regan said suspects usually know they’re wanted, which highlights the necessity that all law enforcement officers receive proper training.
“Training with roleplayers and things like that, hostage taking, and someone shooting from a back bedroom, how you get in and get out,” Regan said.
“The more well prepared the officers are, and the more educated the public is about what we do, the safer everybody is,” said Fure.