The Negotiator Magazine

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Selection and Training of a Crisis Negotiation Team

By Bob Sherman

One of the most effective, yet often underused tools a police agency has at its disposal is a highly trained and well equipped Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT). Developed and refined over the past 25 years, crisis negotiators have successfully resolved tens of thousands of hostage incidents, kidnappings, barricades and attempted suicides.

While there is usually no question regarding the funding, training and equipment that is earmarked for tactical teams, CNTs are typically denied the same resources. For obvious liability and safety reasons, administrators must ensure that their CNT members are properly selected, thoroughly equipped and trained to work side-by-side with tactical teams.

The FBI's Hostage Barricade Statistics (HOBAS) indicate that a majority of the time, most police Crisis Negotiation Teams DO NOT encounter stereotypical "hostage" situations in which a person is held by a hostage taker for a substantive demand. To the contrary, HOBAS shows that most agencies encounter what has been termed as "non-hostage" incidents. These incidents are those in which there are no substantive demands, but where a person is in a heightened emotional state and has lost their coping skills. These incidents include domestic violence, trapped criminals, circumstances involving the mentally ill and suicide attempts.

These “non-hostage” incidents tend to occur on a more frequent basis than a "hostage" situation. Therefore, departments must be prepared by having officers that are well trained and properly equipped in order to achieve a successful resolution.

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May 2006