Police add texting to crisis negotiation arsenal

May 12, 2014 • Business

In a May 6, 2014 photo, Sgt. Andres Wells of the Kalamazoo Dept. of Public Safety, who successfully used text messaging to negotiate with a suicidal robbery suspect during a 2011 standoff is seen in his armored vehicle holding his cell phone and vehicle speaker. The suspect was unable to hear Wells’s voice through the horn of the Bearcat armored car and gave up after a texting conversation with Sgt. Wells. With 6 billion text messages exchanged daily in the United States, texting is becoming a more frequent part of police crisis negotiations. (AP Photo/Mark Bugnaski)

The suspect in a gas station robbery and 100 mph chase kept pointing his handgun to his head, and police negotiator Andres Wells was doing all he could to keep the man from committing suicide. But he kept cutting Wells’ phone calls short.

Then, about 10 minutes after the last hang up, Wells’ cellphone chimed. It was a text — from the suspect.

“Please call Amie,” the message said, followed by the number of the man’s girlfriend.

Wells was taken aback. In three years as a negotiator with the Kalamazoo, Michigan, police, he’d always relied on spoken give-and-take, taking cues from a person’s tone of Login to read more

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