Two Putnam County police officers are being commended for their negotiation skills that resulted in the peaceful resolution of a 14-hour standoff in Clay County Friday night.
Sheriff's Det. Mike Biggs and DePauw Police Capt. Ken Hirt were the negotiators who talked Clay County Deputy Jonathan Thomas Lambert into peacefully ending the situation. Lambert had fired warning shots Friday morning after Indiana State Police attempted to serve an arrest warrant on him for actions during a domestic dispute.
"The dynamics of the whole thing could have been disastrous," said Putnam Sheriff Mark Frisbie, who responded to the scene along with Biggs and Hirt. "Not only were they dealing with a police officer, but they were dealing with someone who is tactically trained."
Frisbie credited Biggs with initiating contact with Lambert.
"He did a great job of getting this guy calmed down," Frisbie said. But then, police lost contact with Lambert for about five hours.
"We were thinking the worst," the sheriff said. "Usually an hour is too long to be out of contact."
But it was Hirt who finally re-established contact with the deputy, and talked him into giving himself up and ending the conflict around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
Both Biggs and Hirt have gone through FBI training as well as continuing education to be negotiators, Frisbie said, and Friday's event may become an example for national discussion at an upcoming negotiations conference. It is not often that police officers are faced with a standoff situation involving one of their own number as the suspect. Since Lambert could better anticipate what actions police were likely to take during the standoff, it made the situation more dangerous, Frisbie said.
Once Lambert exited his home, he was arrested and taken to the Parke County Jail pending his arraignment Monday.
The deputy sheriff faces 11 years in prison if convicted on three Class D felony charges and two Class A misdemeanors stemming from alleged actions during a domestic dispute. Additional criminal charges are pending as a result of the 14-hour standoff.
Appearing in front of Judge Robert Pell on Monday, Lambert was silent as the five charges were presented.
"These are the original charges that created the basis of the initial arrest warrant," said Clay Prosecutor Lee Reberger, who expects to file additional charges later in the week after reviewing reports regarding Lam-bert's activities during the 14-hour standoff with law enforcement.
The charges filed stem from Lambert's alleged attempt to confine his girlfriend without her consent inside his home on Friday. He allegedly used the threat of killing his girlfriend to get her to engage in sexual conduct against her will, as well as choked her and attempted to run over her with a vehicle.
A pretrial conference for Lambert has been set for Dec. 19, with a jury trial to begin Jan. 22.
Judge Pell set Lambert's cash bond at $25,000.
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton asked the public not to pass judgment too quickly on Lambert.
"We live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law," Sheriff Heaton said. "Deputy Lambert was on a scheduled vacation from the sheriff's department at the time of the incident. He has been served with paperwork advising him that he is on administrative leave with pay until a complete investigation by the Merit Board can be reviewed. The appropriate disciplinary action can be taken at that time. This is normal departmental procedure and is being done at the advice of our attorney."
Additional reporting was contributed by Ivy Herron, staff writer of the Brazil Times.