SAVANNAH, GA (February 7, 2019) – Officers nationwide, now more than ever, have to be prepared to handle crisis situations differently than times past. This week, the Savannah Police Training Unit hosted a Crisis/Hostage Negotiation Level 1 training that gave a group of officers the skills necessary to handle crisis situations in an empathetic manner.
“The public expects de-escalation. You can’t just arrest your way through problems,” said Dennis Flynn, a Commander with the Commerce City Police Department and CSM Instructor. “So we have to talk to people. We have to talk to them and say ‘how can we best serve you?’ ”
This training was provided by Crisis Systems Management LLC whose instructors taught class participants how to handle a variety of crisis situations including hostage takers, barricaded subjects and potential suicide victims. The five-day training took students through the different phases of the negotiation process, from the introduction to the surrender, and specific strategies and techniques to be used along the way.
“Police officers generally are problem solvers. They arrive on scene and try to solve the problem and get back in service as quickly as possible to handle the next call,” said Lt. Hiram Rivera of the Training Unit. “Crisis Negotiation is a different approach. We want them to not just get there and solve the problem immediately but to learn to work in a group to slow things down and hopefully gain cooperation with the person in crisis to keep everyone involved safe.”
This afternoon was the final day of training and consisted of officers working through a scenario where a husband was contemplating suicide and whose wife would not leave the home, putting her in danger. “Working through this scenario was extremely eye-opening. We really had to use our training to listen and communicate effectively,” said Cpl. Sharif Lockett, a Neighborhood Resource Officer who was interested in the course. “It showed me that by using your words, being an active listener and thinking critically, you can help people realize that there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel.” Cpl. Lockett is now a new member of Savannah Police’s Hostage Negotiation Team.
The training was completely funded by the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center, which contracts CSM to provide the training. For more information on CSM visit, https://crisisnegotiation.us/about-us/.