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Local police say they’re ready if it happens here

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:00 AM

“We did provide what you can call indirect assistance,” Steigenga said. “There were a variety of officers positioned for precaution measures along some of our main roadways. We do constantly monitor those type of situations — and, when it became evident during the (high-speed) chase that there were a variety of different ways he could have gone, we took precaution.”

Steigenga said the stunning news of the shooting spree in Grand Rapids on Thursday was “devastating” for West Michigan, but commended the collective effort of all law enforcement involved in the incident.

“It’s a devastating situation, but it was obvious it was a collective effort from a number of local law enforcement,” he said. “Their approach in what was a very hostile situation was right on.”

Police said Rodrick Shonte Dantzler killed seven people at two different residences and later took three hostages at a home in northeast Grand Rapids. The hostages were free after the 34-year-old suspect shot himself in the head and died at the scene around 11 p.m., police said.

Earlier, Dantzler led police on a high-speed chase into downtown Grand Rapids along Interstate 196, where several gun shots were fired, police said. One motorist was reported to be shot in the arm at an intersection of South Division and Fulton Street, but the wound was not considered to be life-threatening.

Capt. Rick Yonker of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said there were also no police officers from Grand Haven that assisted with the tragedy, but there is a direct plan and policy in place in the case of a high-speed chase or hostage situation here.

“We have very strong mutual aid with all the area communities,” Yonker said this morning. “We have agreements with fellow departments to help deal with those type of situations.”

In the case of a hostage situation, Steigenga said the main objective is to protect the public.

“Our goal is to quickly isolate the incident and have a perimeter established,” he said. “There’s an immediate attempt to communicate with the suspect — and, if possible, establish a line of negotiating. It’s a goal to maintain a line of communication, which the (Grand Rapids police) did last night.”

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department features a Critical Response Team that handles such instances, Steigenga said.

“We have dealt with barricaded individuals before,” he said. “There’s not any area that is oblivious to that. That’s why we maintain our level of training.”

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