The Hostage Negotiation Team of the Leon County Sheriff's Office was formed in 1983. At that time, Sheriff Eddie Boone established this team in an effort to save lives in our community.
The current Negotiation Team consists of six members. All Team members have regular duty assignments and are on-call at all times for the Hostage Negotiation Team. These members, with a minimum of three years of law enforcement experience, are drawn from the ranks of the Sheriff's Office and are chosen for demeanor, communication skills and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Team members undergo specialized training based on problem-resolution and psychological tactics aimed at convincing the subject(s) involved to resolving the situation peacefully.
This training is augmented by regular monthly team training and quarterly joint training with the S.W.A.T. Team. These monthly training sessions are scenario based and verbal crisis management techniques are practiced. This training is necessary in order to maintain the highest level of competence and readiness.
The Hostage Negotiation Team responsibilities include not only negotiations but also establishing communication links, background information, psychological profiles and conducting witness debriefings. The Negotiators use unique equipment and advanced communication skills during negotiations. When called upon, the Hostage Negotiation Team responds with their specially equipped mobile unit which houses state-of-the-art communications equipment that allows them to communicate in any type of situation. The mobile unit also provides a controlled and isolated area for the negotiators.
The Hostage Negotiation Team responds to incidents involving barricaded or suicidal individuals, or situations where hostages are being held. These incidents may include criminals caught in the act, extremist groups, jail riot or prominent individuals taken in an extortion attempt. Besides handling incidents in Leon County, the Hostage Negotiation Team also responds to seven neighboring counties through an agreement with the Florida Sheriff's Association to assist with any crisis negotiations where assistance is needed. The Hostage Negotiation Team is also affiliated with the Domestic Security Task Force and has the capability to respond on a regional level when called upon.
Whatever the situation, the Hostage Negotiation Team responds as a Team with one goal in mind: The peaceful resolution to a crisis situation without the use of force or loss of life.