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Praise for police negotiators during 10-hour tunnel standoff

Report from RNZ
A former police negotiator says it’s “amazing” that officers were able to talk to a man for 10 hours and keep him safe in Wellington yesterday.

Cars were lined bumper to bumper in the capital after the 31-year-old man climbed onto a row of large metal crossbars above the Terrace tunnel entrance around midday yesterday, closing SH1 for more than ten hours. Police say he had a knife with him and was struggling with personal issues. The man climbed down at 10.30pm after speaking with a family member.

Lance Burdett is a former police negotiator and led talks with Jan Molenaar during the Napier siege in 2009.

Mr Burdett said for the negotiation teams to talk to the 31-year-old for that long and still have a successful outcome was fantastic.

“You get to a window of around two to three hours most occasions and it tends to deteriorate from there, so to keep the person going for such a long time is to their [the officers] credit,” he said.

Mr Burdett said typically negotiations with people in a crisis situation was a three stage process.

“You start in the middle, what’s going on right now, what are they thinking about… then you go back in history – what happened before then.

“Then you move on much later in the process… [to] how are we going to fix it. If you don’t do it in that process, the likelihood is that it’s not going to be a successful outcome.”