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The KCSO Hostage Negotiations Team (HNT) responds to incidents in which negotiation with an offender is needed for the safe release of hostages and for the resolution of an incident. These incidents may involve hostages, barricaded persons, or suicidal persons.

Our Goal is Safety

The primary goal in any incident is the unharmed release of all hostages. Where there are no hostages, and no other citizens or police are in jeopardy, our objective is to have the individual submit to law enforcement personnel without incident.


Before a new HNT member can actively participate in an actual crisis incident, he or she must complete a four-day regional hostage negotiations training class. All team members participate in monthly training that consists of either classroom instruction or a mock scenario that parallels an actual hostage/barricaded person incident. In addition, the team leader and assistant team leaders have attended numerous advanced seminars throughout the country and have gained international recognition for their expertise and training abilities. All HNT members are cross-trained and can perform any function.

Fast Response with a Team Approach

The HNT consists of 16 deputies and one sergeant. For response-time purposes, the team is divided in three sub-teams, each responsible for a specific geographical region of King County. With this approach, the King County Sheriff’s Office can guarantee a trained negotiator will be on-scene at a crisis incident within a short period of time.

At least 4 HNT members are used in a hostage or barricaded person incident. When used appropriately, a team approach greatly reduces the liability factor for the police and city. Their functions are as follows:

  • Team Leader – Isolates the team from outside distractions and is a liaison with the command post.
  • Primary Negotiator – Talks directly with the suspect. He/She gains trust, gathers intelligence, and ultimately assists the suspect with surrender.
  • Secondary Negotiator – Monitors conversation between primary negotiator and suspect. He/She helps with the conversation and keeps a chronological log of the conversations and content.
  • Intelligence Officer – Gathers information on the suspect, hostages, situation, and background.

In addition, the HNT has an “on call” psychologist who can help develop personality profiles of suspects and suggest rapport building techniques.