The Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) was formed in 1983 by then Sheriff Eddie Boone in an effort to save lives in our community.
The current HNT consists of eight members. Members have regular duty assignments and are on-call 24 hours a day 365 day a year. The members have a minimum of three years of law enforcement experience and are drawn from the many different units throughout the Sheriff's Office. Members are chosen for demeanor, communication skills and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. 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 trainings and quarterly joint trainings with the SWAT Team. These monthly training sessions are scenario based where verbal crisis management techniques are practiced. This training is necessary to maintain the highest level of competence and readiness.
The HNT 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 HNT 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 HNT responds to incidents involving barricaded or suicidal individuals, or situations where hostages are being held. These incidents may include criminals caught in the act, barricaded subjects, extremist groups, persons in crisis and other emergency situations. Besides handling incidents in Leon County, the HNT 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.