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NTOA's Annual CNT Conference

 

NTOA’s 10th Annual CNT conference was held in Phoenix, Ariz. The Phoenix Police Department co-hosted the event, which was attended by more than 100 student attendees and speakers. Every year the roster of talented and experienced speakers grows, and last year’s conference, marking 10 years of providing training and support to negotiators, was one of the most outstanding yet.

The keynote speaker was Alea Nadeem, who was abducted and taken to Iraq by her father when she was a young girl. The FBI and others negotiated Nadeem’s release several years later, and she was returned to her mother in the U.S. She found her return to the States to be a very difficult transition, having adapted to the Iraqi culture in which she had spent several years.

At her young age, Nadeem did not understand why other people did not treat her as an equal or understand her (Iraqi) way of life. Today, Nadeem educates others on the different aspects of the Iraqi culture to teach them to look beyond the normal stereotypes of foreign cultures.

Two very well-known experts in the negotiation arena, Gary Noesner and Dr. Wayman Mullins, gave informative presentations. Noesner, retired FBI unit chief of the Crisis Negotiation Unit at Quantico, addressed the subject of “Stalling for Time: Calm, Creative Communication in Crisis,” which was a good review of negotiations. Dr. Mullins spoke on terrorism, dealing with some current issues as well as techniques for negotiating with domestic and international terrorists.

On the second day, hostages was the preeminent theme. The day began with Kathleen Stanley, a hostage from the National Labor Relations Board Hostage Incident, who recounted her ordeal of being held hostage for more than five hours on Feb. 23, 2006. Stanley gave an emotional presentation. This conference was her first public speech since the incident. Thankfully, she now feels she can finally put some of the anger behind her after speaking out about her ordeal. Stanley still works for the NLRB.

Gary McDougall, a retired officer from the Calgary Police Service, was next. He covered the concepts and ideas behind negotiating a hostage situation. McDougall discussed several conflict solutions, not only for dealing with a hostage-taker, but also for the possibility of having to deal and negotiate with the hostage(s) during an incident.

Jim Bird, recently retired from the FBI, is an expert in cross-border kidnappings. Bird discussed relevant issues regarding various types of kidnappings, the role law enforcement officers play in kidnappings, and the family’s involvement.

Incident debriefs are the backbone of the NTOA CNT conference. One was presented by Mark Lightfoot, an officer from the Niagara Regional Police. His debrief was about an incident in which his agency had to negotiate with one of its own officers. Lightfoot discussed several critical issues that affect situations such as this, including the emotions involved when dealing with a partner you work with. Lightfoot’s presentation made a huge impact on the audience, many of whom remarked afterward that it was clear that that could happen to anyone.

Another excellent debrief was given by Lieutenant Scottie Frier, the negotiations team leader from the Lexington County, S.C. Sheriff’s Office. Frier’s debrief was regarding a domestic violence incident in which a male suspect held two female acquaintances hostage.

The hostages were being held for expressive reasons; there was a lack of substantive demands and prior problems involving the suspect and hostages. Frier discussed the FBI’s 10 high-risk factors, all of which were present in this incident, which it was clear was non-negotiable. In the end, the negotiation team, with its tactical team’s cooperation, negotiated a surrender of the suspect and the release of the two women.

Additional debriefs were provided by Sergeant Russ Moore from the San Diego County, Calif. Sheriff’s Department; Sergeant Mike Wesley from the Phoenix, Ariz. Police Department; Sergeant Tom Moyer from the Las Vegas Metro, Nevada Police; and Lieutenant Lee White and Detective Jason Maddalozzo from the Mesa, Ariz. Police Department.

Moore debriefed on a jumper incident on a freeway, highlighting the difficulty of negotiating with someone on the ledge of a bridge, and described conducting face-to-face negotiations. Wesley discussed an incident which stressed the importance of the negotiation team and tactical team working together. During the event, the two teams realized a tactical intervention was necessary to rescue the hostage. The negotiation team assisted the tactical team with the tactical intervention and rescue of the hostage.

Moyer’s debrief described an incident with a mentally challenged “repeat customer.” The disturbed suspect had tied up and hung his neighbor from the ceiling of the suspect’s apartment. The negotiators realized the suspect was not going to let the neighbor/hostage go and assisted the tactical team in its intervention and rescue of the hostage. Moyer’s presentation described the challenges of dealing with a mentally ill suspect who is unable to think rationally or be reasoned with.

Finally, White and Maddalozzo presented two incident debriefs, both of which stressed the importance of communication among command, tactical and negotiations during an incident.

One incident involved a suicidal female suspect demonstrating several suicide-by-cop indicators. The negotiation team updated the tactical team on the suspect’s behavior and demands to be shot by the officers. The tactical team was ready when the suspect came out shooting at the officers.

The second incident involved a male subject expressing suicidal thoughts and no will to leave. The subject detailed numerous losses, and the incident leaned toward the subject completing suicide. However, the negotiation team worked hard, found some hooks and was able to convince the subject to live.

NTOA thanks Rescue Phone®, Enforcement Technology Group and Astrum LLC for their generous donations. It also thanks the surrounding Valley agencies for all their support. The NTOA CNT Conference for 2011 will be held Oct. 11-14 in Tempe, Ariz.

For more information, contact NTOA Conference Coordinator Laura Gerhart at lauragerhart@ntoa.org.

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2011

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