Engaging in tactical operations is one of the most important responsibilities of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), and to assist in these operations, CIRG maintains the Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU). Created in 1990, the CNU is tasked with providing support to the FBI’s numerous tactical units while they are in the field. By providing up to date information to field agents, the CNU helps to improve operational success and increases public safety.
The CNU operates both domestically and internationally, and can be a great career choice for anyone interested in FBI tactical operation that prefers not working in the field.
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What the CNU Does
The CNU is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and works directly with tactical operations groups like the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and SWAT units. CNU operatives can provide support in a wide variety of tactical operations, including hostage negotiations, incidences of kidnapping, hijackings and terrorist attacks.
In addition to providing negotiating strategies for HRT and SWAT field agents, the CNU also trains its own staff of hostage negotiators, anyone of which may be called into the field to handle intense hostage situations.
CNU Job Location and Training
The main operating branch of the CNU is located in Quantico, VA at the FBI Academy. However, CNU Special Agents can also work with foreign government through exchange programs to help them update their tactical operations groups. In addition, the CNU routinely work with local law enforcement agencies to ensure they have necessary information and support.
Every CNU operative will have first become a Special Agent with the FBI. After Special Agent status is obtained, potential CNU operatives are required to complete a National Crisis Negotiation Course that lasts two weeks. During this two-week course, you will be taught all the skills necessary for a career and to perform important CNU tasks and to support field operatives.
Typical CNU Job Tasks and Responsibilities
In addition to providing instantaneous information to HRT and SWAT operatives working in the field, CNU agents must be able to perform several crucial tasks related to negotiation. Primarily, CNU agents should be able to investigate crisis incident suspects and quickly gauge their likelihood of becoming violent.
When a CNU agent is called to the field, the must be able to successfully engage in conversation with kidnappers, terrorists and criminals and possess the stamina to carry negotiations to their conclusion, however long it takes. A successful CNU operative should also be able to maintain incident records, train new negotiators in the latest techniques and stay informed of the different types of crises events and negotiating strategies.
Because every member of the CNU is also a FBI Special Agent, their pay level is determined by the government General Schedule (GS) scale for law enforcement officers. The minimum level of pay for a CNU operative is GS-10, although they may be able to reach GS-15 if they are able to obtain a position with the Hostage Rescue Team. GS-13 is the usual maximum level for a CNU Special Agent who works primarily in the field.
Anyone interested in an FBI career centered around providing support to field agents and potentially entering the field themselves should pursue a position with the Crisis Negotiation Unit.