The Negotiator Magazine

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The FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) recommends that once a team has been selected, there should be a minimum of three negotiators that respond to a critical incident. One team member will act as the primary negotiator. This person will be the one who actually has a dialog with the subject. The second team member will be a coach or secondary negotiator. The coach aids the primary negotiator in establishing an effective communication strategy when talking to the subject in crisis. The third responding member should be the team leader. The team leader will assist in planning the overall negotiation strategy. If an agency's budget permits, additional negotiators can be added to the team.

It has been documented over the years that officers, victims and hostage takers face the biggest risk of injury or death during a tactical intervention. Eighty seven percent of all hostage incidents involving victims are peacefully resolved through the negotiation process, and 90% of all critical incidents are resolved with no loss of life (HOBAS June 2001).

With this in mind, it is imperative that law enforcement agencies carefully select crisis negotiation team members, and equip and train them to the same level as their SWAT counterparts. Failure to do so may open an agency and its members to liability issues that could have been otherwise avoidable.

Bob Sherman began his career in the USAF where he served as law enforcement specialist for eleven years. His interest in negotiations began in the mid 80's when he was a counselor at a suicide hotline in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended several negotiation courses taught by the FBI and eventually became a police negotiator for the USAF. In 1992, Bob left the military and attended a police academy where he graduated as the Valedictorian and Distinguished Recruit. He was hired by the Burleson Police Department and has worked there since 1993. Bob is the senior sergeant in the Department and serves as the crisis negotiations team leader. He is also the Vice President of Public Relations for the Texas Association of Hostage Negotiators.

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May 2006