negotiation | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: General Term

Negotiation in police conflict resolution involves communication and problem-solving skills to reach a mutually acceptable outcome and prevent violence.

Crisis negotiation in the field of law enforcement is a special skill. It’s used when situations get tense, like during a hostage situation or when someone is threatening to hurt themselves or others. In these moments, specially trained officers, known as crisis negotiators, step in. Their job is to talk to the person involved, calm things down, and find a peaceful solution.

The Role of a Crisis Negotiator

The crisis negotiator plays a critical role. They need to stay calm and think clearly, even when things get scary. They use their training to understand the person they’re talking to, build a connection with them, and convince them to make safe choices. After all, the main goal of crisis negotiation is to prevent violence and ensure everyone’s safety.

Skills Needed for Crisis Negotiation

Crisis negotiators need many skills. For one, they must be excellent communicators. They need to be good listeners, understanding the emotions and needs of the person they’re talking to. They also need to be patient because these situations often take time to resolve.

Above all, crisis negotiators must be empathetic. They need to show the person that they care about their feelings and are there to help.

Crisis Negotiation Techniques

Crisis negotiators use different techniques depending on the situation. For example, they might try to build rapport by finding common ground with the person. They might also use active listening, repeating back what the person says to show they understand.

Negotiators often use open-ended questions, too. These are questions that can’t be answered with just a “yes” or “no.” This can help the person open up and share more about their feelings and thoughts.

The Importance of Police Crisis Negotiation

Police crisis negotiation is incredibly important in criminal justice. It’s often the difference between a peaceful resolution and a tragic outcome. Not only does it protect the lives of those directly involved in the crisis, but it also ensures the safety of the wider community.

The Challenge of Police Crisis Negotiation

Crisis negotiation is not an easy task. Every situation is different, and what works in one case might not work in another. Plus, the stakes are high. If negotiation fails, people could get hurt.

But despite these challenges, the work of crisis negotiators is crucial. Their ability to defuse dangerous situations saves lives and keeps our communities safer.

Police Negotiations in Community Policing

Community policing is a strategy that aims to build trust between the police and the community they serve. An important part of this strategy involves police negotiations, but not in the crisis context we often associate with the term. Instead, it’s about communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.

At its core, community policing involves building strong relationships with community members. Police officers aren’t just responding to crimes; they’re actively engaging with residents. They’re attending community meetings, participate in local events, and establish positive relationships with community leaders and residents. This is where negotiation comes into play.

In the community policing context, negotiation isn’t about defusing a hostage situation or talking someone out of harmful actions. Rather, it’s about working collaboratively with community members to address issues affecting the neighborhood. This could involve a wide range of situations, from resolving disputes between neighbors to developing strategies for reducing local crime rates.

For instance, consider a situation where a local park has become a hotspot for illegal activities at night. Police might negotiate with community leaders and local residents to develop a solution. This could involve increased patrols, improved lighting, or community-led initiatives like neighborhood watch programs. Here, negotiation is about finding a mutually beneficial solution that respects the community’s needs and concerns while also ensuring public safety.

This type of negotiation requires the same skills as crisis negotiation – good communication, empathy, and patience. But it’s also about being open-minded and flexible. After all, the best solutions often come from the community members themselves, who know their neighborhood’s unique needs and characteristics.

All in all, police negotiation in the community policing context is about fostering open dialogue, promoting mutual respect, and working together to create safer, stronger communities.


All in all, police crisis negotiation is a vital part of law enforcement and criminal justice. It requires patience, excellent communication skills, and a deep understanding of human behavior. By resolving crises peacefully, crisis negotiators play a key role in maintaining public safety.

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Last Modified: 06/30/2023

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