BRPD crisis negotiators compare real-life and TV hostage situations

Lt. John Windham
Lt. John Windham
Sgt. Steve Wilkinson
Sgt. Steve Wilkinson

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Police Department top crisis negotiators have a voice of compassion that can keep an emotional ordeal from getting worse. But is what they do anything like what you see in TV dramas?

In Monday night's first episode of the CBS thriller 'Hostages,' the stakes were high and drama even higher. Expect that kind of intensity all season.
Also, expect to struggle knowing who is really the good guy and the bad guy.

Dylan McDermott portrays a rogue FBI agent. Toni Colette is an accomplished surgeon. She's been tapped to save the president's life.

BRPD crisis negotiators Sgt. Steve Wilkinson and Lt. John Windham say what they experience in real-life crisis situations is different than those we see on TV or in movies.

"You got to have the ability to listen and understand and be willing to understand," said Lt. Windham, Lead Crisis Negotiator.

Lt. Windham says those qualities are key. So, you might guess the emotional, rushed urgency you see on TV is rarely, if ever, part of their repertoire.

"We're developing a trust, a rapport - have to believe we are their safety net," says Sgt. Wilkinson, Crisis Negotiator.

By demonstrating compassion, they prove their care is real.

"They're in a crisis, so rational thinking is out the window," says Lt. Windham.

"If you are not sincere and don't believe it, they will pick up on it," said Sgt. Wilkinson.

Their team has six negotiators in all; they're a tight group.

"Typically we take our time, we gather intelligence and try to find out as much as we can before we get on the phone with the person," said Lt. Windham. "100 percent of the time we're successful, we've gained their trust."

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.