600 East Walnut
Columbia, MO 65201-4491
The Columbia Police C.N.T. is considered a large team, for a department our size. The larger team size allows the team to split into two separate teams, should two different incidents occur simultaneously. It also allows for continual relief, should a negotiation become extended for several hours or days. To date, the longest C.N.T. negotiation was twelve hours.
Lieutenant Ken Gregory commands the team. The assistant commander is a sergeant. Two additional C.N.T. sergeants assist with leadership during training, member selection, and Code Red incidents when S.W.A.T. and C.N.T. are both activated. Once a negotiation is underway, one sergeant supervises the actual negotiation, while the other sergeant supervises the intelligence function.
Two C.N.T. members are designated as equipment technicians. These team members were selected for their technical ability with phone systems, and surveillance equipment, and their ability to set up and maintain the team's van. Either of these technicians can utilize the existing commercial phone system or set up their own service line using our own equipment.
Currently the C.N.T. has 15 members. Ten are designated as negotiators, two are equipment technicians, two are sergeants and one is a lieutenant. When a Code Red is called with both C.N.T. and Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), approximately 40 to 50 trained personnel make up the response complement. This does not include the original patrol officers and sergeants who were on the scene first. Our civilian personnel often assist with supplying food and water. This function is critical as incidents frequently occur under extreme weather conditions.
All C.N.T. members receive basic negotiation training from Northwestern University located in Evanston, Illinois. After approximately two years of experience, negotiators are sent through the advanced negotiators course. This allows them to freshen up on skills and share their experiences with other C.N.T. members across the country. The C.N.T. Commanders also receive the Critical Incident Commander's course from Northwestern. Team members attend training put on by the F.B.I., Department of Defense and Federal Law Enforcement Training Institute located in Glynco, GA.
In addition to national C.N.T. training programs, members train every other month practicing their negotiation skills in front of other team members. After every negotiation (both real and in training) negotiators are critiqued by their team members. At a minimum of once a year, both C.N.T. and S.W.A.T. train together in a simulated exercise. These exercises are designed to put stress on both teams and the problems encountered are very real even though it is a practice scenario.
In August of 1999 the C.N.T. team participated in an advanced and unique course designed to enhance their ability to work together under pressure. Team work, communication and trust were emphasized. Team members spent eight hours learning to problem solve as a group which culminated in climbing a 50-foot alpine tower with team members providing the safety life line.
In the early 70's police throughout the nation realized the
need to train for the inevitability of high risk, non-typical events such
as hostage takings or barricaded subjects intent on committing suicide. Two
different areas of expertise were found to be lacking. Police weapons at the
time usually consisted of a favorite hunting rifle. Also lacking was any
type of psychological strategy for dealing with individuals who are either in emotional crisis or are intent on doing harm to themselves or others.
In 1976 two teams were established to deal with high risk incidents. The S.W.A.T. team was established to conduct the tactical side of these incidents and the Hostage Negotiation Team (H.N.T.) was established to negotiate with the actual hostage taker or barricaded subject. In the 33 years since inception, both teams have evolved and many advancements have been made.
In 1998 the H.N.T. changed their name to Crisis Negotiation Team or C.N.T. Actual hostage incidents are rare; however, individuals in emotional crisis are not. The team was frequently activated to deal with barricaded subjects who wanted to commit harm to themselves or wanted police officers to do it for them.
Negotiators are selected from applicants who have demonstrated an ability to work well as a team, demonstrated interview and interrogation skills, and are confident they can make a difference and perform under stress. Recommendation from a current or past sergeant or captain is required.
The following are known to be fact, not unproven theory:
The involved agency has the choice of tactically resolving the crisis or negotiating with the hostage taker. The Columbia Police Department operates with a philosophy of safety prioritization to guide us in making decisions in critical incidents.
Once the crisis goes tactical it cannot stop, and the probability that loss of life will occur is high.
A vast majority of all hostage taking or barricade incidents are resolved by placing a police officer, trained in the art of crisis negotiation, in contact with the hostage taker.
Because of the team approach to the C.N.T. function, other responsibilities have been given to the team over the years. These additional duties have included:
Columbia Police Department
Crisis Negotiation Team (C.N.T.)
600 East Walnut Street, Columbia, Missouri 65201
Telephone (573) 874-7652
FAX (573) 874-3142