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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

St. Paul Field Division

For Immediate Release

Monday, May 21, 2018
Contact: Public Information Officer Ashlee J. L. Sherrill

ATF Brings Crisis Negotiation Training to Minnesota

Local and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Participate

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) hosted crisis negotiator basic school at the St. Paul Field Division over the past two weeks. The training qualified 10 new ATF Special Response Team (SRT) crisis negotiators and five others from partnered agencies.

In addition to ATF agents, Minneapolis and Saint Paul Police Departments, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection participated in the event by either providing instruction or enrolling prospective negotiators.

The new ATF negotiators, recruited from the ranks of tenured ATF SRT agents, focus on hostage situations and high-risk suspects. ATF SRT members respond to high-risk operations throughout the United States by managing the inherent risks associated with the investigation and apprehension of some of the country’s most violent criminals. Crisis negotiators are trained and available to support all SRT operations.

“Crisis negotiation is a critical element of our Special Response Teams,” said ATF Special Operations Division Chief Paul Vanderplow. “During highly stressful situations, there always exists a potential to interact with a person in crisis or who may have special needs. Having this capability gives us the ability to deal with these individuals in a more effective and safe manner.”

“Any time we can deescalate a situation and end an incident without the loss of life, it’s a win,” Vanderplow continued. “Our men and women with the Special Response Teams are highly skilled in handling anything thrown at them, and our crisis negotiators are critical team members. We have to plan for the worst but always work toward the best possible outcome.”

The two-week training event included instruction on the history of SRT operations, basic crisis negotiation fundamentals, physical fitness testing, crisis negotiation case studies and numerous scenario-based exercises.

“We’re always happy to host national training events here in our division area,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn of the St. Paul Field Division. “We were very appreciative of the local agencies who helped provide blocks of instruction for our new crisis negotiators. There is a wealth of knowledge at all levels of law enforcement, and it’s great that we were able to pull together all of those resources to make this a successful training event.”

Special Response Teams train and operate nationwide. During the past five years, the teams have activated on average 200 times, supporting multiagency operations involving outlaw motorcycle organizations, terrorist organizations and organized crime groups. These significant investigations use the teams’ superior tactical proficiencies and specialized equipment.

There are five SRTs located throughout the nation in Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. There are 240 full- and part-time members. Its tactical operators train on a variety of tactical disciplines to include forward observer, explosive and mechanical breaching, hostage rescue, dynamic and covert entry techniques, personal security detail, rappelling and fast rope training, along with a variety of other disciplines such as K9 handlers, medics and the crisis negotiators.

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Prospective ATF special agent negotiators document scenario information during an exercise May 17, 2018, while attending the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

 

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ATF Special Response Team leader, Special Agent Clara Himel, observes prospective ATF and U.S. Customs and Border Protection special agent negotiators during an exercise May 17, 2018, as part of the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

 

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Prospective ATF special agent negotiators prepare for a simulated incident where tear gas was deployed May 17, 2018, while attending the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

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Prospective ATF special agent negotiators discuss scenarios with an instructor May 17, 2018, while attending the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualifies new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

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ATF Special Response Team leader, Special Agent Clara Himel, listens to a phone call during a training scenario May 17, 2018, while assisting with the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

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A prospective ATF special agent negotiator documents scenario information during an exercise May 17, 2018, while attending the crisis negotiator basic course held in various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

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Prospective ATF special agent negotiators completed crisis negotiator basic course May 18, 2018, at various locations in and around St. Paul, Minn. The two-week course qualified new ATF Special Response Team crisis negotiators to deal with hostage situations and high-risk suspects. (Photo by ATF Visual Information Specialist Boyd Craun)

Field Division: St. Paul Field Division