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Hostage Crisis in Beverly Hills

July 07, 1986

Regarding the Van Cleef & Arpels hostage crisis (Part I, June 24-25), I am appalled at the blatant overreaction by our law enforcement officials. The horrible outcome--a hostage shot and killed by a Sheriff's Department marksman, the surviving two injured by exploding flash-bang grenades thrown by police--clearly show that the situation involved "too many boys with too many toys."

In anyone's wildest fantasy, are 80 peace officers with machine guns, helicopters, tear gas, flash-bang grenades, sniper rifles and other paramilitary gear required to subdue one maniac with a revolver and two knives? I think half a dozen smart, coolheaded cops plus a psychiatrist would have been more appropriate. It certainly could not have been any more deadly than the sad outcome.

Usually in the aftermath of a hostage situation, there's a hero among the police ranks. Because of Sheriff Sherman Block and Beverly Hills Police Chief Marvin Iannone's bungled, irresponsible handling of the Van Cleef & Arpels standoff, the heroes are all civilians, and they're either dead (Ann Heilperin, William Smith, Hugh Skinner) or hospitalized (Carol Lambert, Robert Yalor).

DAVID WALSTED

Hollywood

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