In the News
From the National Tactical Officers Association - "Crisis Negotiator" Newsletter:
The Portland Police Department's 156 member force serves the City of Portland, Maine, which is a very diverse city with over 40 nationalities and 70 languages represented. it is also the largest city n the state of Maine. It has a residential population of 65,000, with a business and tourist influx raising the population to 110,000 during the day.
The Portland Maine Police Department's Crisis Negotiators Team (CNT) was originally established as a two-person unit in 1986. In the early 1990's it was expanded to its current size of eight members, including one commander and seven team members. All positions are part-time positions. Members' full time assignments range from Patrol, Detective, Evidence Technician, Senior Lead Officers, and Patrol Sergeant and Lieutenant. Collectively, the Team has over 55 years training and experience in crisis negotiations. On average, the CNT is activated once or twice a year.
The CNT trains every month; typically consisting of presentations/discussions on current topics, role plays, and equipment familiarization. Twice a year, we conduct joint role play training with the Special Reaction Team and Hazardous Devices Unit. In addition, we regularly open up our training sessions to other negotiators in the region. This has allowed us to build strong relationships with our internal and external counter parts.
With prior Administrations not committed to enhancing the CNT function and tight budget constraints, it has been challenging to acquire appropriate equipment for team members. However, we have been successful in recent years at obtaining flack-jackets, helmets, a cell phone recording system, and a laptop computer with access to all in-house records and programs. We have maintained a Throw Phone, and a negotiators' operations center (NOC) - in the form of an old ambulance for several years. We are currently working in conjunction with our sister city, South Portland, to spec out and acquire, through Homeland Security funding, a mobile command post with a NOC incorporated in the vehicle.
The Port of Portland is an extremely active port, with commercial fishing, oil, natural gas, cruise ships, and other marine related activities. Our through-put tonnage is the highest in New England, even busier than the Port of Boston. The US Coast Guard's Northern Sector New England is based in South Portland. With all of these economical and life sustaining operations, the potential of a terrorist act occurring in or along our Port is very realistic. As a result, we regularly train with our public safety counterparts to prepare for terrorist-type incidents.
Most of our Team members have a minimum of 5 years experience in crisis negotiations, with two having over 15 years experience. Our Team's cohesiveness has developed throughout the years as we have grown and matured together; working, struggling, succeeding, and learning with and from each other along the way.
Throughout the years, CNT members have responded to call outs involving suicidal individuals, domestic crises, high risk search warrants, and barricaded suspects. To date, all incidents have been successfully resolved without further injury to the citizen or officers.
As we look towards the future, the Team plans to continue to improve our negotiations skills with consistent training on modern standards and practice of active listening skills; increase our equipment list with updated technology and safety equipment; further develop strong relationships with are negotiators and other public safety counterparts; and, be leaders within the Crisis Negotiations field throughout the state of Maine.
Lt. Janine Roberts is 26 year veteran of the Portland, Maine Police Department. She has been a member for the Department's CNT since 1991, serving as the Commander of the Team for the past four years. Lt. Roberts' regular assignment is as the Commander of the Community Services Division. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement Technology and over 3,000 hours of in-service training throughout her career.