Berkeley Police Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team (BSHNT)   BSHNT gold logo 

The City of Berkeley Police Department's (BPD) Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team (BSHNT) has provided a ready response to high threat and risk incidents outside the normal scope of BPD Police patrol responsibilities since 1976.   The team’s charge is to exercise control over critical incidents such as barricaded subject and hostage situations, service of high risk search and arrest warrants, special circumstance search and rescue operations, special weapons and tactical support for planned and unplanned Departmental operations and tactical support for Crowd Management Team (CMT) operations during incidents involving major violence.  The team’s goal is to protect the lives of, and minimize the hazards to, all persons associated with such events.

The BPD BSHNT is organized into the following elements: 

Command Element:  Comprised of one BSHNT Commander who has responsibility for all BSHNT operations, and two Tactical Commanders who have responsibility for their respective tactical teams.

Tactical Element:  Comprised of two, 12 member tactical teams that are responsible for tactical missions, including arrest, containment, evacuation, tactical intelligence gathering, rescue, search, security, and support of other planned department operations.

Negotiator Element:  Comprised of one team leader, an assistant team leader, and 6-8 negotiators that are responsible for the advancement of a resolution for a critical incident through intelligence gathering and negotiation.

Logistics Element:  Comprised of a team leader and three sworn officers who have the responsibility for the procurement and maintenance of team equipment and supplies.

Tactical Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) Comprised of two sworn officers trained and qualified to the standard of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who are responsible for tactical emergency medical support during BSHNT operations.

Tactical Dispatch: Comprised of Department dispatchers who have responsibility for establishing communication channels, and maintaining and posting tactical logs and incident events.

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All members go through an extensive selection process.  The process includes a formal application review and interview, completion of a 110-hour tactical operations California P.O.S.T. Basic S.W.A.T Course, periodic physical fitness testing and weapons qualifications as well as a probationary training period. The Team has many responsibilities, including handling barricaded subject and hostage situations, personal protection assignments, special circumstance search and rescue operations, tactical support for Patrol activities, and the service of high risk search and arrest warrants. Since the formation of the BSHNT in 1976, the Team has been involved in over 100 operations. 

Over the years, many of the training and tactical techniques researched and used by the Team have been incorporated into BPD's training and patrol procedures, greatly augmenting the department's ability to serve our community.

Team members participate in extensive monthly training, including weapons proficiency, tactical operations and movement, negotiations philosophy and critical incident review. Training is accomplished through lectures, demonstration, audio-visual training, use of various training sites, and live fire training exercises which simulate, as much as possible, real life situations. The Team's operational successes, as well as its participation in community based  training programs have allowed the Department to maintain its respected position in Berkeley and among the law enforcement community.

All BSHNT Negotiator Element team members go through a competitive selection process as well including an application, oral interview with a panel and rountable discussion of qualifications by current team members. Negotiators must be certified by by attending a approved California P.O.S.T. Basic Negotiation Course and attend re-certification every two years in addition to advanced and speciality courses.

BSHNT has been involved in approximately 100 tactical operations to date.  The most noteworthy operation was the 1990 Henry’s Publick House Hostage Incident. The team resolved the 7 ½ hour standoff with a mentally disturbed gunman and safely rescued 33 hostages. 

In recent years, some members of the Tactical Element of BSHNT have volunteered to represent BPD by their participation in Urban Shield. BPD BSHNT has had a team in this extensive training exercise and competition.  

 For more pictures of Members of BPD BSHNT in action follow this link