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Too Close for Comfort: Negotiating with Fellow Officers

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 73 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2004 Pages: 1-5
Sandra D. Terhune-Bickler M.S.
Date Published
April 2004
5 pages
This article examined ways in which officers need to be prepared to handle, supervise, or delegate situations with fellow officers.
Limited published research is available on officers negotiating with fellow officers, however, crisis negotiations involving law enforcement personnel do occur. According to the FBI’s Hostage and Barricaded Database System (HOBAS), 22 incidents involving either a barricaded or suicidal officer were reported in the United States between 1995 and 2002. When responding to an incident, most law enforcement personnel would probably say that they act tactfully, logically, and compassionately. However, if the subject were a fellow officer the responder would consider using the lowest level of intervention, conversation. This may prove a viable option when a low-level intervention can resolve a particular situation. Agencies should have a well-respected peer support program that encourages employees to call a co-worker for mental health referrals and resources. However, when the officer in distress needs more immediate intervention, well-intending colleagues may find themselves in an overwhelming situation. Determining and conducting an appropriate response to situations involving in-crisis law enforcement personnel can prove overwhelming even to seasoned managers. Team leaders and department commanders should ensure that they are prepared to deal with the secondary victimization of their officers when handling a suicidal or barricaded situation involving one of their employees. Crisis negotiations can prove to be emotionally draining and therefore negotiation teams should consult mental health professionals. By establishing certain protocol for these incidents, agencies will be better prepared if negotiating with one of their own becomes necessary. Notes