KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Filmmakers hope putting a spotlight on the work one New York City police officer did to reform police negotiating tactics in 1973 will lead to additional police reforms today.
The director and producer behind “Hold Your Fire” are in Kansas City, Missouri, Tuesday for a screening of their new documentary at a KC Filmfest International event celebrating Black cinema. The screening is invite-only, but the film will hit theaters, including the Glenwood Arts in Overland Park, Kansas, May 20.
The documentary profiles the longest hostage siege in NYPD history. In 1973, officers spent more than 45 hours negotiating with a group of men who were holding 11 people hostage in Brooklyn. Officer Harvey Schlossberg convinced the department to use negotiation tactics which are the bases of what law enforcement agencies use today.
Director Stefan Forbes said the “blueprint” Schlossberg created can apply to all of our lives.
“Anyone who’s in a relationship, a marriage, anyone who has kids, we need to teach our sons as Americans that it’s not about domination, but it’s about deep listening, it’s about respect and really wanting to hear someone else’s perspective,” Forbes said.
Forbes interviewed Schlossberg before the former police officer’s death in 2021. Also included in the film are never before told perspectives from other people involved in the hostage situation.
Fab 5 Freddy grew up in Brooklyn, not far from where the hostage situation unfolded.
“Where I’m born, bred and collared green fed,” he likes to point out.
Working as a producer for “Hold Your Fire,” Fab 5 Freddy said the film gave him the chance to bring a solution for police-related violence to the table.
“After what we’ve seen over the last too many years in America of video footage of people getting gunned down without a question asked, if you will, what Harvey Schlossberg did and put into effect, that’s the beginning of hostage negotiation, which is a global component of how to de-escalate violent, drama, hostage situations, etc. This is the blueprint for what needs to happen in America,” he said.
"Hold Your Fire" won the grand jury prize at the country’s largest documentary festival, DOC NYC, in 2021.