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Hostage Crisis in Beverly Hills

July 07, 1986

I am writing to ask a question regarding the tricky hostage situation that evolved at Van Cleef & Arpels. Why, with all the equipment (helicopters, planes, guns, SWAT teams, police and Sheriff's Department squads) were no lights ordered to the scene?

Surely in this town of huge film equipment, lights of all size and variety can be called in at a moment's notice. Undoubtedly, training large arcs on the scene would have annoyed the intruder but they could have been restrained until he emerged, and then the front and back of the building could have been lit with instant blinding lights.

Full lighting would have given the Sheriff's Department man a better view for shooting rather than taking a shot in the dark. And what ever happened to high-pressure cold-water hoses and steel nets?

I believe the above would have been a better choice than the burning flash grenades that could not be adequately placed or directed.

It was a very difficult rescue given all the barricades and the physical elements involved . . . but there should be some alternatives to deadly sharpshooting.

FRAN J. HARRISON

Los Angeles

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