TPD's Hostage Negotiation Unit talks evolution of communication techniques and key to success

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police Department's Hostage Negotiation Unit gave KGUN9 an inside look at their work. 

Although members of the unit say negotiations happen every day, the unit has been called out 31 times this year to help someone come out peacefully after barricading themselves.

Sgt. Ericka Stropka says the negotiation begins with patience and a huge part of what makes their team successful is active listening. 

"We are listening to what they are going through. We are trying to understand, we are trying to put ourselves in their shoes," she said. "Then as we are doing that we are validating them that you know what you are going through we are not judging it and we are here to help you."

Over the years she says social media has evolved their negotiation tactics. Last month Facebook Live was used for communication. 

"At one point he wanted me to watch him commit suicide on Facebook Live and it was a matter of continuing to connect and build that rapport with him from doing that so the kept him from doing that," said hostage negotiator Ysela Welding. 

They say these situations can be anything from suicidal thoughts, a financial or family situation, or job loss.

"There are so many different components of what brings a person down, what brings them into depression," said Welding.

The unit says an average negotiation can last 4-6 hours. 

"If one of these incidents happens in your neighborhood and we ask that you don't return it is because we are looking to make sure that everyone surrounding that incident is safe," Sgt. Stropka said.
 

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