Brooklyn Park negotiator honored for saving life of 7-year-old hostage

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Brooklyn Park Police Officer Andrew Tolbert was called in as the primary negotiator back in January 2021 to try and free a 7-year-old boy held hostage by an armed suspect.

“The only time you really see a stranger holding a child hostage is only in the movies,” Tolbert said. “He was the No. 1 priority — over any officer or suspect — we need to get that innocent child out.”

The Special Operations Training Association named Tolbert its Negotiator of the Year Award-winner earlier this month.

The suspect was involved in a crime spree and randomly picked the house to break into on 83rd Avenue North in Brooklyn Park, according to investigators.

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Brooklyn Park Police shared an officer-worn body camera video that captured parts of the negotiations where Tolbert talked to the suspect barricaded in a room with the child.

“If they are talking, that’s a positive sign,” Tolbert said. “If a suspect is talking to you, that’s a good sign that you are headed in the right direction for a positive outcome.”

The hostage call was the first time that Tolbert served as the primary negotiator for the department, where he’s served in other roles for more than a decade.

The 7-year-old child was eventually released by the armed suspect.

Tolbert said he remained focused during the negotiations even though he has a son the exact same age as the child he was working to free.

“It started to set in, this was a big call,” Tolbert said as he drove away from the scene. “This was probably a once-in-a-career opportunity that I was given to make a difference in a 7-year-old child’s life.”

The Special Operations Training Association is a nonprofit group that brings special police training to departments in the upper Midwest.

After extended negotiations that lasted well into the night, the suspect took his own life instead of surrendering.

Tolbert credits the entire team of officers who spent hours in the home during negotiations to get the child released.

“I know I was there with a good group of partners that I trusted,” Tolbert said.