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Negotiators train to be ready
By Mu Zi (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-09 01:37

Tense negotiations are going on. No, it's not a corporate takeover or a diplomatic stalemate, but a standoff between police and kidnappers.

And it's not a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster starring Samuel Jackson or Kevin Spacey.

It is happening right here at a police training base in Xihongmen in southern Beijing.

Policemen who would normally be out on patrol are conducting exercises with live ammunition, trying to control hostage situations, calming down people involved and persuading them to release their "victims."

"Generally speaking, it is the patrol officers who first hurry to the spots and facet hugs in tough situations," said Xue Xiaoming, vice-head of the patrol branch under the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security.

Although the police have worked out special mechanism to handle emergencies -- such as kidnappings and robberies -- it is still urgent to teach patrol officers how to negotiate with criminals.Senior police negotiators are being taught to defuse high-risk situations and comfort individuals affected by emergencies to help prevent negative impacts, said Xue.

Xu said his branch has already introduced courses teaching negotiating skills in hostage and suicide-related situations as part of on-going exercises for patrol officers.

Moreover, the police branch plans to set up a special team whose members are skilled in criminal psychology

Xue said such talents can help a lot when facing people threatening to commit suicide.

"People usually call 110 for police help when they find somebody attempting to jump from a high-rise building. If the police are persuasive, such tragedies can sometimes be averted," said Xue.

He added that patrol officers have also developed other training projects involving security checks and marksmanship to improve police work during the 2008 Olympics.

A kidnapping case in Beijing happened on May 18 when a man injured three residents with a knife and abducted another woman in the downtown area.

The police shot dead the man as they were trying to rescue the hostage.

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