The basics of negotiating in a standoff - KMSP-TV

The basics of negotiating in a standoff

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Joseph Felton Joseph Felton
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The mindset in every hostage or barricade situation, according to experts, is for the crisis to end peacefully, if at all possible.

Peoria Police Negotiator Doug Burgess is the President of the Illinois Crisis Negotiators Association.

"The way we look at it is everybody's life is very important; officers, we want to go home at night, the civilians that are around us and the person that we're negotiating with. The safest thing we can do is to talk that person out," said Burgess.

That was the mindset during Sunday night's standoff on Lake Shore Drive. It lasted for more than eight hours. The suspect, Joseph Felton, crashed into a civilian car and then a police car before finally being stopped at Fullerton.

Police did fire shots at the man, but not after he was stopped. At that point, it was a matter of waiting and negotiating with Felton, who police considered armed and dangerous. It's how they initiate any standoff.

"We always believe everybody's armed until we know that they're not, and we don't know that they're not until we have them in custody and we can pat them down and make sure that they're not," Burgess added.

As long as there's no imminent danger, time is on the negotiator's side.

Most of the time, the negotiations are not about give and take, but simply a matter of talking to the individual about options.

"What they're looking for is a way out, they're looking for the information, hey, I've kinda screwed up, now what do I do," said Burgess. "A lot of times they want to give up, they just don't know how and they're afraid because they think if I get out of this car, I've got a bunch of police around me, am I going to be harmed."

When it's clear to negotiators that nothing is going to change by talking, action is then required.

On Sunday night, police used a distraction device, possibly a concussion grenade known as a flash-bang, to end the Lake Shore Drive standoff. A flash bang, like it's name, flashes a bright light and emits a loud noise that temporarily disorients someone, and gives police an opportunity to take a person into custody.

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