(Southaven, MS) It’s a situation nearly every police officer dreads and few know how to handle effectively.
That’s why a group of students and police officers from Memphis and across north Mississippi are getting special training from a hostage negotiation expert.
”It’s totally opposite of what most police are, most people are action-oriented so that’s something we have to overcome to get people to slow down," explained hostage negotiation expert Cliff Freeman.
He says buying time buys cooler, more rational heads.
After a week of classroom instruction, students get to put what they learn into action.
Often times, the only thing that stands between success and tragedy is the hard work of the people negotiating to bring a heated situation to a peaceful end.
But as Memphis police and these students learned, in Tuesday’s standoff, that’s not always possible.
”That’s one of those situations where it’s very difficult and probably is not a negotiable incident, so that means it’s probably gonna turn to be a tactical resolution," said Freeman.
Those in the class say it’s not for the faint of heart.
"I’m nervous. You feel like you’re in a really tense situation," said James McCutcheon of the University of Memphis.
But Freeman says negotiation gives everyone the best chance for a positive outcome, "If there’s an assault on a location, 78% of the time, someone will get injured. But we know if we use negotiation techniques that percentage drops greatly."
With practice comes confidence.
”Yeah, I feel like I can. I feel we’ve been prepared enough to negotiate these things out," said McCutcheon.
And they say that’s the point, turning violence to peace through open communication.