Crisis negotiator discusses dealing with hostage situations - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Crisis negotiator discusses dealing with hostage situations

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Officers in North Haven worked to negotiate with a man that was barricaded in a home (WFSB) Officers in North Haven worked to negotiate with a man that was barricaded in a home (WFSB)

A key element to handling a barricaded person situation is the SWAT team and of course, the crisis negotiator.

Crisis negotiators try to diffuse a tense situation while protecting their fellow officers and the community.

Channel 3 spoke with Deputy Chief Brian Foley of the Hartford Police Department, who has experience as a crisis negotiator.

When negotiators get to the scene of a crime, as was the case on Wednesday in North Haven, time is of the essence.

“You have detectives available to you.  You want to put those detectives on who the suspect is and have them start digging into who you're going to be talking to, who you're going to be trying to talk out,” Foley said.

Once they assess the situation, negotiators go through a series of questions.

“One, does he have any weapons in there.  Does he have any legal firearms?  What kind of guns does he have?  Does he have a potential for violence in his history,” said Foley.

“You're going to want to talk to the female who escaped because she is going to be your most valuable source of information.  She's going to know what his state of mind is,” Foley said.  

Then, it's the crucial moments, of trying to reason with the suspect.

“You want to develop some communication with that person, then you develop a rapport.  It's like a lot like interview interrogation.  You try to find out as much about that person as you can with the ultimate goal of getting them to peacefully surrender through that conversation,” said Foley.

Unfortunately, not every hostage negotiation ends peacefully.

“In those situations when they're held captive, and that person escapes, the desperation just seems to rapidly escalate and the odds of developing a good outcome become much more difficult, and that's what you saw happen in North Haven last night,” Foley said.

Foley says crisis negotiators undergo federal and state training.

He adds good communication skills are a must, as well as the ability to develop a rapport with someone quickly.

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