Eugene, Ore. – Call outs for Eugene Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team have been steadily increasing over the last several years; from 29 in 2018 to now averaging more than 100 call outs for the past three years.
Yet even as the call load and team size has increased year by year, the CNT has still deployed from its aged, 1992 Chevy panel van originally procured and retrofitted by donations through the herculean efforts of Officer Chris Kilcullen. Officer Kilcullen, who was a well-respected and skilled crisis negotiator, was killed in the line of duty on April 22, 2011.
The original CNT van was put into service in 2008 and has served the community for 15 years. Over the past several years the CNT van has struggled to keep pace with the increasing call volume and team size, and is far beyond the end of its service life having accumulated more than 312,000 miles.
Now, thanks to the support of the Eugene Police Foundation and special efforts by Senator James Manning to secure grant funding, the CNT has the keys to a brand new, purpose-built, mobile Negotiation Operation Center, or “NOC.” The new NOC adds much needed enhancements in technology, functionality, and dedicated spaces for both on-scene investigation and negotiations. In honor of Officer Kilcullen’s exceptional service and beloved friendship on the CNT, his signature has been incorporated into the graphics and adorned on side of the NOC in his memory.
The EPD Crisis Negotiations Team is a highly skilled and specially-trained team that is available to address critical, crisis calls such as barricaded subjects, armed suicidal subjects, hostage situations, and high-risk search warrants. Their mission is to establish communications with people who are in volatile crisis situations and create rapport that will help lead the individual to a peaceful resolution. In critical incidents, including those involving armed barricaded subjects, CNT works closely with SWAT to resolve the situation without injury to officers or community. However, more commonly CNT responds to assist patrol in de-escalating situations involving individuals in severe mental or emotional crisis.
How is the Team Staffed?
CNT is an ad-hoc team in the Special Operations division. As such, each team member has a regular assignment whether in patrol, investigations, or other facet. However, in addition to their normal duties, CNT members are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to aid other units within the department. The team is currently made up of one sergeant, 11 negotiators (nine EPD and two UOPD), one intelligence analyst, and two tactical dispatchers. Over the past several years EPD has partnered with UOPD and created a joint negotiation team. This valuable partnership not only helps ensure there are available negotiators for the City of Eugene, but also extends CNT’s crisis skills to student populations in the area as well.
Who is Selected for the Team
When selecting members for CNT, EPD looks for employees who display outstanding levels of patience, poise, and empathy, have exceptional listening and communication skills, and thrive in group problem-solving scenarios.
What Kind of Training Do CNT Members Have?
CNT members attend the FBI Crisis/Hostage Negotiation Course where they receive instruction in areas such as; fundamentals of crisis negotiations, suicide risk assessment and intervention, active listening skills, abnormal psychology, and high-risk indicators. In addition to the class instruction, prospective negotiators are evaluated during live action scenario-based trainings throughout the 40-hour course. As a team, CNT meets twice monthly for ongoing training, skill building, specialized equipment training, and scenario based training. Quarterly, CNT conducts joint team trainings with other EPD Special Operations teams, as well as regional partnering negotiation teams such as LCSO, Salem PD, OSP, and the FBI. CNT Members also attend the yearly Western States Hostage Negotiation Association (WSHNA) and/or the National Tactical Operators Association (NTOA) conferences to study the latest in industry best-practices, specialized team skills development, and high-profile national case studies.
(Information from EPD)