Crisis Negotiations Team
Kern County Sheriff's Office
Crisis Negotiations Team
1350 Norris Road
Phone: (661) 391-7500
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Negotiations Team’s (CNT) primary function is to establish and maintain communication during critical incidents. The types of calls which CNT responds to can vary from hostage takers, suicidal persons, barricaded subjects or any subject that pose a violent threat to themselves or the community, or those persons going through all kinds of crisis. The ultimate goal of CNT is to use communication as a means for a peaceful resolution. CNT falls under the umbrella of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office SWAT and works with patrol, detectives, and specialized units to safely end crisis situations.
CNT is a collateral assignment which consists of a team of ten (10) sworn members. All members on CNT hold the rank of Sheriff’s Sergeant, Senior Deputy or Deputy Sheriff. All members on CNT work for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office full-time in primary assignments such as patrol or investigations. Team members are on call and are often called to these critical incidents from their work assignments or from home. CNT is led by one Team Leader and two Assistant Team Leaders. Each team consists of five (5) members. Team 1 is responsible to respond from the first of the month through the 15th of the month. Team 2 is responsible to respond from the 16th through the end of the month. CNT works under the supervision of the SWAT Commander who is currently Lieutenant Richard Garrett.
Being a member on CNT is extremely stressful and requires strong interpersonal skills and a resilient personality. To be eligible to become a member of CNT, qualified applicants must have satisfactory annual performance reviews, they must have a minimum of two years patrol experience, and they must have a positive recommendation from their current supervisor. Qualified applicants go through a high stress, scenario testing process which encompasses intelligence gathering, warrant writing abilities, and an actual negotiation with an actor posing as a subject in crisis. The examination ends with an oral interview of the applicant and a peer review process.
The Crisis Negotiation Team responded to more than 25 full callouts and high-risk search warrants last year. CNT often works with other law enforcement departments, mental health professionals, and other government agencies to help resolve non-law enforcement related issues. CNT participated in, and successfully resolved, several “CNT only” callouts where they responded to situations where no criminal offense had occurred. These types of incidents involve suicidal subjects or other persons going through a crisis who had not committed any crimes. CNT’s strong mental health training and excellent communication skills are paramount to the safe and successful resolution of these difficult situations.
CNT members attend a 40 hour, California State sanctioned, Basic Negotiator’s School that is taught by experienced local law enforcement personnel and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. Many CNT members later attend Advance Negotiator’s School and attend frequent conferences. CNT trains as a team for eight (8) hours biweekly. For every training session, one CNT member is responsible for that period of training. Frequent CNT training topics include: equipment familiarization, search warrant writing skills, active listening skills, rapport building, mental health issues, and any law changes or case law issues that directly impact how to resolve critical incidents. The goal of CNT is to end a critical incident without any injuries to suspects, civilians or sworn personnel. This goal can only accomplished by having well qualified and highly trained personnel on hand ready to solve these problems.
CNT MEMBERS - 2018
Sheriff’s Sergeant Joshua Nicholson – Team Leader
Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Wells – Assistant Team Leader
Senior Deputy Sheriff Pete Martinez – Assistant Team Leader
Deputy Matthew Harkey – Assistant Team Leader
Sheriff’s Sergeant Abel Lombera
Sheriff’s Sergeant Dave Stephens
Senior Deputy Sheriff Sean Mountjoy
Senior Deputy Sheriff Jason Colbert
Deputy Sheriff Orlando Ramos
Deputy Sheriff Shannon Biehl
During a typical incident, the five (5) team members are each given a task to perform during the incident.
One team member will be assigned the job of Primary Negotiator. The Primary Negotiators job is to establish contact with the subject and maintain a line of communication and rapport building.
One team member is assigned the job of Secondary Negotiator. The Secondary Negotiator listens and assists the Primary Negotiator by making dialogue suggestions.
One team member is assigned to the job of Liaison Officer. The Liaison Officer relays to the command post pertinent information and status on how negotiations are going.
One team member is assigned the job of Intelligence / Warrant Writer. The Intelligence / Warrant Writer gathers any information about the subject the CNT is in negotiations with. Intelligence / Warrant Writer also writes warrants for the person or residence that the subject may be in.
Finally, one team member, typically the Team Leader or Assistant Team Leader, are assigned the job of Command Post Officer. The Command Post Officer works directly with the lead SWAT Officer and the SWAT Commander and assists in making critical decisions.
CNT responds to many incidents throughout the year. These incidents can be anything from a barricaded felon to someone going through a personal crisis and wanting to commit suicide. CNT is proud to say that in many cases, we can resolve these incidents peacefully, and without any injuries to officers or the public. CNT’s commitment to training and professionalism truly sets them apart and makes them a specialized team.