The Negotiator Magazine

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Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) Leadership

One of the most important considerations for a properly trained and equipped CNT is the selection of the team leader. It is recommended that the CNT leader be of equal rank to the tactical team leader. The reasoning: having one team leader hold a higher rank over the other could be an inhibiting factor when managing a critical incident. Also, the higher ranking member will often have more influence with the on-scene commander, and may ignore recommendations of the lower ranking supervisor. The CNT leader must have excellent communication skills and be an expert in the field of negotiations, possess a thorough knowledge of current procedures for managing crisis incidents and must have an understanding of human behavior that focuses on the mentally ill. They must be able to select new team members, provide in-service training, and secure equipment. They must also stay current on crisis incidents unfolding around the country and constantly review negotiation related literature.

Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) Selection

The selection of CNT members should be based on criteria set forth by the National Council of Negotiation Associations (NCNA) in 2001. The NCNA recommends that negotiators should be volunteers, have a high level of self control, be able to remain calm under stress, have excellent interpersonal communication skills, have a calm and confident demeanor, and must work well in a team concept. It is interesting to note, however, that in a survey of over 600 crisis negotiators conducted in February 1992 by the Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Department and the FBI, fewer than half (45%) of negotiation teams had any written policy for the selection of negotiators.

Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) Training

Training a CNT is as equally important as the selection of the team. A 40 hour basic crisis negotiations course is the first step. The CNT members must then participate in specialized in-service classes and train in role-playing exercises. They must learn how to perform duties as a primary negotiator, a coach, team leader and investigator. Negotiators must be allowed to attend national or regional seminars and conferences. Attending training such as this allows members to interact with other negotiators and review incidents from around the country. The previously mentioned 1992 survey showed that 61% of the Crisis Negotiation Teams (CNTs) spent less than 5 days a year in continuing crisis negotiation training; 44% of that training was conducted at the agency level.

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May 2006