Policy: Hostage or Crisis Situations


This purpose of this policy is to provide officers with guidance for handling incidents involving hostage situations, barricaded subjects and emotionally disturbed persons; while striving to avoid unnecessary risk and injury to law enforcement personnel, citizens and victims.


It is the policy of the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) that officers responding to situations involving persons in crisis, holding hostages and/or barricading themselves following current laws, practices and training.


Police Negotiator

A law enforcement officer specially trained in communicating with subjects who are threatening violence or are in a crisis situation. Negotiators utilize communication skills grounded in empathy and respect that allows them to work with the person in crisis towards a peaceful resolution.

Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.)

First responders trained in the innovative “First Responder Model” of police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions. This model is designed to promote officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis.

Ingham Regional Special Response Team (IRSRT)

Multi-jurisdictional special tactical response team utilized throughout Ingham County with expertise and equipment to manage dangerous persons. They can be requested through the 9-1-1 Central Dispatch.

Hostage Situation

A crisis situation in which a perpetrator(s) takes a person(s) under his or her control and subjects that person to risk of violence for the purpose of furthering a criminal act or facilitating an escape. There are two broad categories of hostage situations:

A classic hostage situation, in which the hostage-taker is contained within a room, building, store, or other physically segregated area.

The mobile hostage situation, in which the hostage-taker is on the street or another location where he or she is not restricted by any clear physical boundaries.

Barricaded Person(s) Situation

A crisis situation characterized by a subject, known or believed to be armed, in a contained location who refuses to comply with the lawful orders of law enforcement personnel to surrender.

Suicide Intervention-Jumper

A crisis situation in which a person plans to fall or jump from a potentially deadly height, with the intention to commit suicide.

Emotionally Disturbed Person

A person who appears to be in a mental health or emotional crisis and is conducting himself or herself in a manner which a police officer reasonably believes is likely to result in serious injury to themselves and/or others.


General Information

The goal of the crisis negotiation process is to save lives and resolve critical incidents while striving to avoid unnecessary risk and injury to law enforcement personnel, citizens and victims.

Crisis Negotiators may be used to diffuse potentially life-threatening situations through the use of proven verbal crisis management techniques.

The negotiation process is not tactical in nature, but careful planning and strategies are coordinated with tactical units, such as the IRSRT.

Incidents involving barricaded subjects, hostage takers, or persons threatening suicide represent especially stressful moments for law enforcement personnel who respond to them.

Negotiators utilize active listening skills while demonstrating empathy to build rapport with subject(s) during ongoing crisis negotiations.


Upon responding to crisis situations (hostage, barricaded, or emotionally disturbed person), the responding officer shall keep in mind the availability of crisis negotiators.

When there is time to utilize negotiators, first responding officers shall respond to the scene and attempt to isolate and contain the subject(s) to begin implementation of this procedure.

Crisis Negotiator Usage

Any police officer may request the Duty Supervisor to request a crisis negotiator to the scene of an incident, including utilizing current IRSRT call-back procedures.

Types of Incidents to Request a Negotiator

Hostage Situations

Barricaded subjects

Emotionally Disturbed Persons

Suicide Intervention, i.e., “jumper”

Kidnapping with suspect

Any other incident where the skills of trained negotiators would help resolve a situation safely

When requested in conjunction with another operational mission of the IRSRT

Response to Crisis Incidents

When responding to crisis incidents, as defined in this procedure, officers shall use the following procedures:

First Responding Officer’s Initial Actions

Arrive safely to the scene and notify dispatch

Assess the totality of the circumstances taking in all potential hazards

Secure the area

Determine the threat to hostages and/or bystanders

Request additional units, if needed

Notify the Duty Supervisor of the situation and provide a full briefing on the supervisor’s arrival to the scene

Transfer command, if the arriving supervisor takes over the scene

Duty Supervisor Actions

Assess the totality of the circumstances

Determine if trained Crisis Negotiators are available as outlined in this policy

Consider a request for activation of IRSRT

Sustained Actions

Officers on scene shall seek cover and isolate/contain the subject(s) by establishing an inner and outer perimeter.

Inner Perimeter: Immediate area encompassing the incident location.

Outer Perimeter: Area adequately removed from actual scene of the incident to ensure the safety of all spectators; including members of the news media, family of the subject(s) and any other bystander.

Officers shall not attempt to tackle or physically handle the subject, unless no other reasonable alternatives exist and it can be articulated why those actions were required.

Officers shall exhibit control of their firearms and follow current Department policies on Use of Force (OPR02).

If a subject in any of the above situations is contained and poses no immediately threat or danger to any person, no additional action with be taken without the authorization of the Duty Supervisor.