National Council of Negotiation Associations (NCNA) and FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU)
1. Guiding Principles
A. The Goal of the Negotiation Process is to save lives and to resolve crisis incidents
while attempting to avoid unnecessary risk to officers, citizens, victims, and
B. The application of Crisis Negotiation skills has consistently proven to be law
enforcement's most risk effective method to achieve the desired outcomes.
2. Resolution Determination
A. The method by which any crisis incident is resolved is ultimately determined by
the subject's behavior.
B. However, standards of acceptability require law enforcement/correctional agencies undertake
all reasonable efforts to obtain a nonviolent resolution.
C. Negotiation defusing skills represent law enforcement's/correctional's most successful tool
(79.5 % resolved without injury: Hostage Barricade Database System - HOBAS June 2009).
3. Crisis Negotiation: The Preferred Strategy
A. Generally, tactical resolution should be reserved for those instances in which the
subject appears likely to engage in further violence despite negotiation efforts.
B. Due to the inherent danger to all parties in using force, it should be used only
when it is necessary, risk effective, and acceptable.
4. Negotiation Capability
A. All law enforcement/correctional agencies should maintain a negotiation capability.
1. Smaller departments may require a mutual aid resource to call upon in crisis
B. Any department large enough to have a tactical team should have a negotiation
C. As with tactical teams (SWAT), negotiations are best undertaken in a team
D. Law enforcement/correctional agencies should identify and train a sufficient team of
personnel in nationally recognized negotiation skills.
1. Negotiators should be required to maintain their skill levels through recurrent
individual and team training.
2. As with SWAT, the negotiation team should be provided sufficient equipment
and technical support to carry out their duties.
5. Public Confidence and Liability
A. Society demands law enforcement / correctional agencies have a professional capability
to resolve crisis incidents in the most risk effective manner (negotiations).
B. Civil liability is most likely to present a problem to any agency that cannot
demonstrate it has access to trained negotiators, policies, procedures, and equipment for
responding to crisis incidents.
6. Negotiation Team Composition
A. The staffing level for a negotiation team varies greatly from one department to
another based on perceived or demonstrated need.
B. It is recommended a minimum of three trained negotiators respond to any crisis
C. More complex or difficult incidents may require additional trained negotiators
working in shifts and filling a variety of team functions.
7. Mental Health Assistance
A. Negotiation teams should consider establishing a consultative relationship with a
mental health professional(s).
B. To be an asset, selected mental health professionals should:
1. Serve as team advisor, not as a negotiator
2. Participate in negotiation team training
3. Respond to team call outs as requested
4. Focus on behavioral assessment of subject
5. Assist in team debriefings after a critical incident
8. Selecting Negotiation Team Members
A. Nationally, selection standards vary widely; however, consideration should be
given to identifying individuals with the following skills/characteristics:
1. A volunteer
2. High level of self control
3. Ability to remain calm under stress
4. Excellent interpersonal communication skills
5. Calm and confident demeanor
6. Good listener and interviewer
7. Works well in a team concept
9. Required Initial Training for Negotiators
A. It is recommended individuals selected to become negotiators receive training
1. A minimum of 40 hours in a qualified course
2. Training should include basic concepts and techniques, abnormal psychology,
assessment, crisis/suicide intervention, active listening skills, case studies,
meaningful role-playing drills, and an incident management overview
10. Recurrent Negotiation Training
A. As with all critical law enforcement / correctional skills, such as firearms, negotiators
should periodically receive updated training and practice in order to maintain proficiency.
B. It is recommended negotiators annually attend a minimum of 40 hours of
training in order to stay proficient.
C. Attending regional or national conferences, learning from case study
presentations, and conducting joint training with tactical teams is highly desirable.
11. Negotiation Team Organization
A. It is recommended each agency organize its negotiation team with the
following in mind:
1. Identify a team leader responsible for operational assignments, team selection,
training and equipment maintenance.
2. Develop a written policy for responding to crisis incidents and have a standard
operation procedure (SOP)
3. Institute standard procedures for establishing and running a functional
negotiation operations center (NOC)
12. Negotiation Team Role in the Command Structure
A. Regardless of the incident response system used, the negotiation team leader
should be seen as a critical advisor and have direct access to the Incident
Commander during an operation.
B. For balanced decision making, the negotiation team's input should be independent
of, yet equal to, that of the tactical team.
1. Even if the negotiation team is administratively assigned as a sub-unit of the
13. Command Considerations
A. Past incidents have clearly demonstrated that due to their responsibilities for
overall management of the incident, the OIC should refrain from functioning as
the negotiator. (Commanders Don't Negotiate and Negotiators Don't Command)
B. Universally accepted negotiation procedures allow the negotiator to delay and
"buy time" by indicating final decisions rest above him/her. The OIC cannot
14. Negotiation Considerations and Recommended Approaches
A. 95.8% of all law enforcement / correctional incidents are emotionally driven
with the subjects having no clear goal (HOBAS June 2009)
1. Experience suggests the subjects are in a "Crisis State."
2. The subject may not be able to cope with recent life stressors or significant loss
(job, relationship, self-esteem, etc.).
B. Non-threatening, nonjudgmental communication to include active listening skills should
be used with the goal of de-escalating and defusing the incident.
C. In most cases, the initial strategy should be to lower emotions and reduce tension at the scene.
D. Early contact between the subject and the negotiation team can serve as "verbal
1. Helps to reduce tension and minimize misunderstanding
2. Should be considered even if the tactical team has not yet arrived on scene
E. Perceived law enforcement / correctional encroachment may be counterproductive to
establishing and maintaining meaningful dialogue. Despite peaceful intent, police actions will
often be viewed as threatening by the subject and can promote further resistance.
1. When practical and risk effective, agencies should employ a low profile
response scheme for emotionally driven situations (95.8% HOBAS June 2009)
2. Traditional hostage incidents (4.2% HOBAS June 2009) may benefit from a
higher profile response scheme (contrast risks of resistance versus benefits of
F. Beware of the "King of His Castle" mentality.
1. A majority of subjects encountered will be barricaded in the place they live
(78.3% HOBAS June 2009).
2. This is likely to evoke a strong defensive posture and resistance (Bunker
3. Tends to make the subject hyper vigilant and hypersensitive to perceived
G. Subjects will typically want police to "go away."
H. Incidents are typically unplanned and seemingly irrational
(71.6% HOBAS June 2009).
I. Law enforcement / correctional investment in time tends to pay great dividends:
1. 67.4% of all incidents are resolved in 4 hours or less (HOBAS June 2009).
2. 92.1% of all incidents are resolved in 9 hours or less (HOBAS June 2009).
J. The passage of time (buying time) is typically the most important tool of the
negotiation team by serving to:
1. Allow for the arrival of personnel and equipment
2. Facilitate the gathering of intelligence
3. Provide escape opportunities for victims
4. Assist in tactical intervention planning
5. Help lower tension and build rapport
6. Promote more rational thinking by the subject
K. The costs of patiently managing the crisis incident are significantly less than the
costs associated with defending / settling a pending lawsuit.
15. Associated Risks and Outcomes
A. Violence is most likely to happen at the beginning of an incident or at the end if
tactical intervention is required.
1. Officers, victims, and subjects face the biggest risk during a tactical
B. In 89.1% of incidents involving victims, a tactical rescue was not used (HOBAS June 2009).
C. In 93.6% of the incidents there is no loss of life (HOBAS June 2009).
16. Importance for Tactical Coordination
A. It is imperative the negotiation and tactical teams develop and maintain a
close understanding and cooperative working relationship.
1. Significant problems can be avoided if these teams understand
each others methods and sufficiently train together.
B. The delivery of items, release of victims, or surrender of subjects in the crisis site
requires close coordination between negotiation and tactical teams.
17. Relationship With Command
A. It is important for on scene commanders to be familiar with and understand
essential negotiation concepts and philosophies.
B. Commanders should foster a balanced decision making process, seeking input
from and simultaneously meeting with both the negotiation and tactical team
C. This "Command Triad" should openly discuss alternatives and seek consensus whenever possible.
18. Media Relations
A. The Public Information Officer (PIO) should establish a media briefing area.
B. The Media should be routinely briefed and their cooperation sought.
C. Only the PIO and OIC should make press statements.
1. The PIO and OIC should avoid exposing/identifying tactics and/or tactical and
2. Media statements during an incident should be reviewed by the negotiation
team prior to release.
3. Media statements may be utilized as a valuable negotiation tool.
19. Post Incident Debrief and Review
A. It is recommended agencies conduct timely reviews of each incident to:
1. Identify problem areas and solutions
2. Identify positive actions for future replication
B. Address misunderstandings and correct misperceptions to minimize negative
influences on all personnel.
20. Critical Incident Stress Management
A. If the incident warrants, a critical stress intervention should take place as soon as possible
for all personnel.
B. Continuous support should be provided by the agency as necessary.
21. Additional Guidance
A. The NCNA's Recommended Negotiation Guidelines and Policies are not intended
to be all encompassing or address all aspects of negotiation team operations.
B. Each agency should have a written SOP addressing their specific issues and
concerns in accordance with their mission and responsibilities.
C. Policies for many issues (i.e. the use of listening devices) may be dictated by state
or local laws.
THESE GUIDELINES WERE RATIFIED BY THE NCNA MEMBER
ASSOCIATIONS EFFECTIVE 10/4/2001.
THESE GUIDELINES WERE AMENDED AND APPROVED ON APRIL 26, 2009 AT
THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NEGOTIATION ASSOCIATIONS.