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Crisis Negotiation

man_closed_mouth.jpgSam Felder (not his real name) had barricaded himself in his home.  Suffering from hellacious migraines and post-traumatic stress, he told his wife he could not take it anymore.  Sam loaded his handgun and told her to leave.  She complied, ran to a neighbor’s house, and called the police.  Police attempted to negotiate with Sam for close to 10 hours.  It was the end of June and sweltering out.  The agency managing the incident elected to cut power to Sam’s home.  It was done, I was told, because Sam had been using power tools to barricade himself into the basement of the home with planks and 2x4s.  Not sure if it was a move I would have made based on the circumstances but it was done.  The managing agency reached out to my team for mutual aid support.  

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Last month I wrote about how law enforcement should dispatch negotiations teams to active violence/shooter events noting that many believe there is no role for us to play.  I have been latently criticized for such thinking.   In the article, I posed the question, what are we to do when the event transitions from dynamic to static? On June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, we learned.   

Negotiation deadlines and demands“We want four million dollars, forty 1,000-year-old ginseng roots, a 50-troop military helicopter, to take us to Thailand…and four bullet-proof vests.” These demands (and they are actual demands made during an incident) could stymie most hostage-barricade managers. To the lesser-trained they seem non-negotiable. Demands and deadlines tend to crank up the stress level for decision-makers.  Generally speaking, they shouldn’t and here’s why.