Hostage Barricade Team

Hostage Barricade Team

A Hostage Barricade Team ("HBT") is a police unit that handles hostage negotiations. The first formalized hostage negotiation process was created by Frank Bolz of the New York Police Department.

Hostage Barricade Teams are more commonly referred to as Hostage Negotiation Teams (HNT) or Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT). The term "crisis negotiations team" is becoming a more accurate reference as crisis negotiators can respond to more than just hostage situations; they can respond to virtually any type of situation involving a subject or subjects that have barricaded themselves, typically inside a residence or commercial building. Many barricade situations involve a subject who wants to commit suicide or wants to be killed by the police ("suicide by cop").

When responding to a hostage/barricade situation, CNT will attempt to "negotiate" with the barricade subject. These negotiations can take place over a bullhorn, telephone landline, or cellular phone. In some instances a "throw phone" will be deployed by an agency's tactical team to allow for the CNT to establish communications.

Negotiating via a "throw phone" is a preferred method of communications in a hostage/barricade situation as it is not uncommon for a tactical team to disconnect a residential or commercial buildings landline communications to help gain more of a tactical advantage. By disconnecting the landline the barricaded subject is unable to make and/or receive calls from undesirable third parties including the media which may complicate the negotiations process.

A "throw phone" is a self-contained communications device providing hard-line communications between two parties. It is referred to as a "throw phone" as this device is typically "thrown" within the barricade. Using a hard-line connection, the media is unable to "tap" into the line and monitor the negotiations process.

HBT was also the official designation for the SWAT team of the Chicago Police Department before its name was changed into S.W.A.T. in the year 2006.

Film history

Samuel L. Jackson plays an HBT "Negotiator" in the Movie "The Negotiator".


[ Essay by Seattle Police Dept. Hostage Negotiatior Bruce A. Wind October 1995]

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