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Now What?

When it is all said and done, it is really your decision whether or not to become involved. It is an important decision, to say the least. At the most, your involvement may give you the experience of a lifetime, both personally and professionally. You will make the correct decision for you. If it does not feel to you like your involvement is the right thing to do, it probably is not regardless of all of the other reasons in the "plus" column. Examine all that is involved and in the last analysis, let your personal energy guide you. Experience teaches that this energy is very seldom wrong. Once on the team, regardless of the type of negotiations undertaken, the Behavioral Health Specialist can assist a team in many ways. Although elucidation is outside of the scope of this article, the BHS could:

  1. Debrief the negotiations teams on completion or resolution of the particular incident. While a "tactical" debriefing may be done also, this debriefing would attend primarily to the emotional needs of the team members.
  2. Prevent serious errors in negotiations or in procedures before they affect outcomes.
  3. Review and critique those events occurring during the negotiations process.
  4. Attend to special issues that may face the team before, during and after negotiations. These might include:
    1. Risk
    2. Violence
    3. Red flags
    4. Winning and losing
    5. Utilization of a "think tank"
    6. Lethality.

End Notes

Negotiation is negotiation. The basic elements are the same regardless of venue. The obvious difference in a law enforcement setting often revolves around a scenario that could include an overlay of violence, criminal acts, police intervention and personal risk. Business negotiations, court negotiations, family negotiations, etc., could, but usually do not, include such an overlay. Regardless of the lack of the described overlay, negotiators and negotiations teams can benefit by including among themselves a behavioral health specialist. Much like attorneys might use jury selection consultants, negotiations works better when done by a team and the needed professional components are brought together. This may be true both in preparation for negotiations, during negotiations and on completion of the negotiations process regardless of overall outcome. Negotiation is negotiation. (Greenstone, 2003)


Dennis, A. (December, 2011). On choosing the right operational police physician. The Police Chief, 78 (12), 34-29.
Greenstone, J.L. (Winter, 2002) The role of tactical emergency medical support in hostage and crisis negotiations. The Tactical Edge, 20 (1), 33-35.
Greenstone, J.L.(Spring, 2003). Case study: How to be a mental health consultant. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 3,1, Pp. 121-130.
Greenstone, J.L. (2005). The elements of police hostage and crisis negotiations: Critical incidents and how to respond to them. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
Greenstone, J.L. (Pending, 2012). How to choose the right operational police behavioral health specialist. The International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, Pending.


Corey, D.M., et al. (August, 2011). Board certification in Police Psychology: What it means to public safety. The Police Chief, 78 (8), 100-104.
Gupton, H.M., et al. (August, 2011). Support and sustain: Psychological intervention for law enforcement personnel. The Police Chief, 78 (8), 92-97.
Kamena, M.D., et al. (August, 2011). Peer support teams fill an emotional void in law enforcement agencies. The Police Chief, 78 (8), 80-84.
Nicoletti, J., et al. (August, 2011). Police Psychologists as consultants. The Police Chief, 78 (8),54-62. Trompetter, P.S. (August, 2011). Police Psychologists: Roles and responsibilities in a law enforcement agency. The Police Chief, 78 (8), 52.
Yossef S. Ben-Porath, Y.S., et al. (August, 2011). Assessing the psychological suitability of candidates for law enforcement positions. The Police Chief 78 (8), 64-70.

Additional Resources

James L. Greenstone Picture
Dr. Greenstone is a Psychotherapist, Mediator, Arbitrator, Negotiator, Author, Professor, Police Officer and Police Behavioral Health Specialist. He is well known as a Police Hostage Negotiator and Trainer. Formerly, he served as the Director of Psychological Services for the Fort Worth, Texas Police Department and as the Operational Police Behavioral Health Specialist for the Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Team. Dr. Greenstone is the author of The Elements of Police Hostage and Crisis Negotiations: Critical Incidents and How to Respond to Them, The Haworth Press, Inc., 2005 (,The Elements of Disaster Psychology: Managing Psychosocial Trauma was published in 2007 by Charles C. Thomas, Publishers ( The Elements of Crisis Intervention, 3 rd Edition was published in 2010. He is the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations and serves on the governing Council of the Committee on Publication Ethics. Additionally, he is a Diplomate of the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology. Dr. Greenstone may be reached at


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