In general, a riot can be terminated at any time by using overwhelming force. As a consequence, commanders must develop strategies to minimize the risks to hostages, assault forces, and inmates, as well as to ensure that the assault force is invulnerable. Such strategies depend upon the type of force used. The three types of force used to suppress riots are immediate force, planned tactical force, and the use of riot squad formations. .
Immediate force is used as a first response to a disturbance. When using immediate force, personnel rush in to defend or retake areas of the prison without waiting for the riot to grow in size. The key to achieving the desired result is the speed in which the adequate number of personnel can be deployed, equipped, and organized. An advantage to the use of immediate force is that it can hinder the inmates' ability to become organized in making weapons, fortifying their position, and from recruiting additional participating inmates and increasing the size of the riot. Pain and suffering felt by the hostages, if any are taken, will also be limited as the result of immediate force. .
Yet another advantage of immediate action is that it takes away the inmates' opportunity to promise to themselves and to the authorities that they will harm the hostages if their demands are not met. Once threats are made, inmates may psychologically find it difficult to back down from them. Whether or not the inmates realize the terrible consequences of such threats, their public commitment to this course of action may psychologically obligate them to follow through with their threats. In short, negotiations, compared to the early use of force, give inmates an opportunity to make threats to which they then may become committed.
Quickly assembling the necessary amount of personnel and equipment is the greatest challenge in using immediate force. Ill equipped riot control squads mobilized too quickly run the risk of being overrun and taken hostage.