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What if I Am Called at 2:00 in the Morning?

And you will be called at 2:00 A.M. or at any time for that matter. Overall experience is that the callout comes at the most inconvenient times and at those times when one may have just finished an entire workday and is tired. It really does not matter. When called, you go. And when you go, nobody cares that you have had a long day and that you would rather be home sleeping. The expectation is that you will be as sharp as you need to be and that you have taken care of your personal needs yourself. You should show up at the scene ready to go to work at whatever task is necessary to support the team effort. This could include hauling equipment or cable, helping with installations, etc., as well as providing professional assistance and backup.

How Can I Respond to a Team Callout if I Am a Single Parent?

Problem! Obviously, you need an on-call babysitter. If this is a major problem area, it may be necessary to limit your involvement with the team for the benefit of all concerned.

How Much Training Will I Need to Do This Job?

Some states mandate the amount of training that is necessary A minimum of forty hours of training in a course that requires practical applications as a part of the course of instruction is a must and is often a mandated requirement. Retraining should occur annually. Training in related areas would also be helpful. A very few courses are offered specifically for police psychologists operationally deployed. Become aware of these. Combining your professional training with the specific police hostage negotiations training should be sufficient for novices to this field. Continual training both within and without the team is critical. The team will depend on you to have the best available information in all related areas at your disposal.

How Much Time Should I Allow?

As much time as it takes if you are serious about your involvement.

How Involved Should I Become?

Of course, this is a personal matter. Mental health professionals who are involved on crisis/hostage negotiation teams probably would get more involved if possible. You may find that this is true for the negotiators also. As I mentioned earlier, either it is for you or it is not for you. If you find your niche, you may find that you want to explore and to develop it to the fullest.

Hostage and crisis negotiations teams are often betwixt and between within the departmental structure. Some departments see their negotiations team as a phantom unit that springs to life only when needed, but that otherwise is largely disregarded in the overall scheme of things. Other departments recognize that regular involvement with each other and with you is important for morale and overall team effectiveness.

How Much Should I Charge for My Services to the Hostage and Crisis Negotiations Team?

If your involvement is part of your job description, no problem. Coming in from the outside may pose additional problems. You can always try to arrange a deal that pays you your normal hourly rate for the actual number of hours worked with the team in training or at incidents. Consider using a backup psychologist during times when out of the area or country. They may bill at their usual rate. However, they are only used as back-up and not on a regular or ongoing basis. As a result the expense is minimal, but does provide for such assistance to the team on an as-needed basis. Another possibility is to contract for a flat rate. You would provide the needed input and services and draw a standard monthly compensation. Of course, this means that you could spend one hour or twenty hours for the same money. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you are clear about it. Reality usually dictates that you need to be compensated. However, if the compensation is the sole motivator, perhaps it is time to reconsider your choice.

Should I Become a Police Officer or a Reserve Police Officer?

Now here is an excellent idea. Establish your credibility in this police-specific endeavor by learning to do the job of a police officer from the inside. One means of doing this is to become a reserve officer. Usually, reserve officers are not paid for their services, but they are provided with training and equipment. The training is worth its weight in gold to someone who really wants to get involved in this area. For example, in Texas, reserve officers are required to pass through several training levels that eventually result in a regular peace officer license. Most departments do require that reserve officers work for the department a defined number of hours per week or month. The reality is that a psychologist does not have to be a police officer to be an effective member of a hostage and crisis negotiations team. But, it sure helps.

Should I Volunteer My Time?

Yes, especially at first. Prove your worth to the team and to the department. It might make it easier to get the money flowing once they see the necessity of having you on board. And, it really is important to give something back. The rewards are not so bad either.

How Much Time Should I Give to the Team?

Give as much time as you want to and as much as you can. The more that they see you and come to rely on your presence, the greater your credibility. Credibility with police officers takes time, but is worth the effort. Do not ever confuse their politeness toward civilians like yourself with credibility. You build credibility by credible involvement.

Negotiators and Operational Behavioral Health Specialists (OBHS)©™: by James L. Greenstone


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Copyright © 2012 James L. Greenstone
Copyright ©   2012  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (April, 2012)