National Council of Negotiation
Associations (NCNA) and FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU)
Recommended Negotiation Guidelines*
1. Guiding Principles
A. The Goal of the Negotiation Process is to save lives and to resolve
crisis and/or critical incidents while attempting to avoid unnecessary risk to
officers, citizens, victims, and subjects.
B. The application of Crisis Negotiation skills has consistently proven
to be law enforcement's most risk effective method to achieve the desired
outcomes in crisis and/or critical incidents. Some
examples may include but are not limited to:
1. Hostage incidents,
2. Suicidal subjects,
3. Barricaded subjects,
4. Active assailants,
5. Civil unrest events,
6. Terrorist incidents, and/or
7. High risk warrant services
2. Resolution Determination
A. The method by which any crisis and/or critical 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
C. Negotiation defusing skills represent law
enforcement's/correctional's most successful tool (80.5% resolved without
injury per FBI’s Hostage and Barricade Database System [here in referred to as
HOBAS] October 2018)
3. Crisis Negotiation: The Preferred
A. Generally, tactical resolution should be reserved for those instances
in which the subject appears likely to engage in further violence despite
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
1. Smaller departments may require a mutual aid resource to call upon in
B. Any department large enough to have a tactical team should have a
C. As with tactical teams (SWAT), negotiations are best undertaken in a
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. Basic CNT equipment may include:
a. Throw phone capable of being introduced into a barricaded area
b. Cellular device capable of voice, data, text, and video
c. Public address system
d. An internet capable-device with the ability to run social media
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
6. Negotiation Team Composition
A. The staffing level for a negotiation team
varies greatly from one department to another based on perceived or
B. It is recommended a minimum of three
trained negotiators respond to any crisis incident.
Roles which these responders may fill
include but are not limited to:
1. Primary negotiator
2. Secondary/Negotiation coach
3. Team leader
6. Situation boards
7. Tactical Liaison
8. Technical equipment officer
9. Mental health professional
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
1. Serve as team adviser, 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
A. It is recommended individuals selected to
become negotiators receive training which includes:
1. A minimum of 40 hours in a qualified course
2. Training should include basic concepts and techniques, abnormal
psychology, intelligence gathering, 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 and other nearby negotiation 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
A. Regardless of the incident response system
used, the negotiation team leader should be seen as a critical adviser 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
1. This should be the case even if the negotiation team is
administratively assigned as a sub-unit of the tactical team
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 do that.
14. Negotiation Considerations and
A. 97% of all law enforcement / correctional
incidents are emotionally driven with the subjects having no clear goal (HOBAS
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 containment."
1. Helps to reduce tension and minimize misunderstanding
2. Should be considered, even if the tactical team has not yet arrived
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 (97% HOBAS October 2018)
2. Traditional hostage incidents (3.16 % HOBAS October 2018) may benefit
from a higher profile response scheme (contrast risks of resistance versus
benefits of surrender)
F. Beware of the “Bunker Mentality.”
1. A majority of subjects encountered will be barricaded in a place of
residence (78.9% HOBAS October 2018).
2. This is likely to evoke a strong defensive posture and resistance.
3. Tends to make the subject hyper vigilant and hypersensitive to
G. Subjects will typically want police to
H. Incidents are typically unplanned and
seemingly irrational (71.49% HOBAS October 2018).
I. Law enforcement / correctional investment
in time tends to pay great dividends:
1. 62.24% of all incidents are
resolved in 4 hours or less (HOBAS October 2018).
2. 91.4% of all incidents are
resolved in 9 hours or less (HOBAS October 2018).
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
81.55% of incidents involving victims, a tactical rescue was not used (HOBAS
C. In 97.66 % of the incidents there is no
loss of life (HOBAS October 2018).
16. Tactical Coordination
A. It is imperative the negotiation and
tactical teams develop and maintain a close understanding and cooperative
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 and forward deployment of
negotiators require close coordination between negotiation and tactical teams. Joint training between the tactical and
negotiation elements should reinforce this coordination.
17. Relationship With Command
A. It is important for on scene commanders to
be familiar with and understand essential negotiation concepts and
B. Commanders should foster a balanced
decision-making process, seeking input from and simultaneously meeting with
both the negotiation and tactical team leaders.
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
1. The PIO and OIC should avoid exposing/identifying tactics and/or
tactical and negotiation personnel.
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
C. Policies for many issues (i.e. the use of
listening devices) may be dictated by state or local laws.
guidelines are not intended to supersede individual department policies and
THESE GUIDELINES WERE RATIFIED BY THE NCNA
MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS EFFECTIVE 10/4/2001.
THESE GUIDELINES WERE AMENDED AND
APPROVED ON (NOVEMBER 8, 2019) AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF