The mission of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Negotiation Team (C.N.T.) is to defuse potentially life threatening situations through the use of proven verbal crisis management techniques. The Crisis Negotiation Team responds to incidents involving suicidal, armed/barricaded and hostage holding individuals. The team is a voluntary on-call unit that works in conjunction with the Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) team. Team members represent various ranks and positions within the agency. The team responds to situations where they are requested by the Uniform Patrol Division as well as assisting other agencies whenever their services are requested.
The Crisis Negotiation Team has 11 sworn members and 1 mental health professional assigned to the team. The larger team size allows for the team to split into two separate teams should two different incidents occur. It also allows for continual relief should a negotiation become extended for several hours or days. One team member is designated as the Chief Negotiator and is the team commander. Another team member is designated as the Technical Assistance Response Unit. This team member is responsible for the set up and maintenance of the team''s van and equipment. Other team members serve as negotiators, scribes, and intelligence officers. The final team member is a volunteer mental health professional who serves as the team’s mental health consultant. During a situation team members gather information on the people involved, compile psychological profiles, interview witnesses, and analyze intelligence information while establishing an ongoing dialog and rapport with the person or persons involved in the crisis.
All Crisis Negotiation Team members receive basic negotiation training from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. After negotiators gain some experience they are sent through the Hostage Negotiator Certification program to receive their national certification from the International Association of Hostage Negotiators. This allows them to freshen up on skills and share their experiences with other experienced C.N.T. members from across the country. Team members also attend training put on by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
In addition to certification training programs members train every other month practicing their negotiation skills in front of other team members. After every negotiation (both real and in training) negotiators are critiqued by their team members. At a minimum of once a year both C.N.T. and S.W.A.T. train together in a simulated exercise. These exercises are designed to put stress on both teams and the problems encountered are very real even though it is a practice scenario.
The Crisis Negotiation Team is also in the process of becoming part of the Crisis Intervention Team program which provides the team members with training on mental illness and crisis intervention/de-escalation techniques. This training is proven to help deputies de-escalate situations involving individuals in serious mental health crisis. The goal of the program is to keep deputies and mental health consumers safe in these encounters.