Police Negotiators Save a Life

By: Erika Kurre Email
By: Erika Kurre Email

One of the most important aspects in resolving a stand-off is communication. There were several area officers on the scene in Avon Wednesday to make that happen.

They are often the first to put themselves’ in harm's way, but they're key to giving authorities an inside look at any situation.

Corporal Frank Meredith has served as a negotiator for several stand-offs in the past few years.

The most recent was at Primecare in Dothan, when negotiators were working the incident for three hours.

Although this most recent stand-off in Avon didn't escalate to that point, authorities were prepared for it.

Corporal Meredith said, "Once we get on the scene, the first thing we do is gather all the intelligence; everything about the person while we're there. At that point, we'll start making decisions."

There are about 10 stand-off negotiators in Houston County between the Dothan Police Department, the sheriff's office and the FBI.

Their main focus is to establish communication in any situation.

Chief Deputy Don Valenza with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, said, "That's really important. The number one thing is you want to communicate with them where you can at least get them talking to you and you can get an idea of what their mental status is."

All of the negotiators in the area work together, responding to any agency in need, trying to safely resolve incidents like this.

All of the area negotiators also train together in what's called a Multi-Team Negotiation Squad.

The Houston County Sheriff's Department is planning another training session soon, in order to maintain their skills and learn from Wednesday’s standoff.

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