On this week's episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," Eddie, the 19-year-old son of an accused rapist, holds his girlfriend and her daughter hostage. When Eddie breaks down and shoots his girlfriend, Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) offers herself up as a hostage in place of the wounded woman.
Are Benson's actions a real tactic used by officers during hostage negotiations? Sixty-eight percent of our readers said it's not, and they're right!
According to Timothy J. Hardiman, the technical consultant for "SVU" since 2004 and a retired inspector for the New York Police Department, the NYPD has a long history of dealing with hostage crises and none of those cases has ever involved NYPD officers exchanging themselves for a hostage. Here's why:
"The preservation of life is the top priority of every operation the police conduct. The more people who are in a room with a volatile hostage taker, the bigger the chance that something can go wrong, so in real life an officer would never exchange themselves for a hostage. The vast majority of hostage negotiations end with no injury to the hostages or the hostage taker. This is because our skilled hostage negotiators and expert Emergency Service Unit will always find another way to solve the problem. In this particular case, the "SVU" writers stretched the truth in order to make it necessary for Benson to be in that room with Eddie for the sake of television."
See Hardiman on the set of the show during the hostage scenes:
Watch the full episode here:
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on NBC.