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Police negotiator: Listening is key during standoffs with suspec - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Police negotiator: Listening is key during standoffs with suspects

Officers outside Thursday's 10-hour standoff in downtown Charleston. (Photo Source: Live 5) Officers outside Thursday's 10-hour standoff in downtown Charleston. (Photo Source: Live 5)
Charleston Co. Sheriff's Lt. Rita Zelinksky says listening is the top priority during standoffs with suspects. (Photo Source: Live 5) Charleston Co. Sheriff's Lt. Rita Zelinksky says listening is the top priority during standoffs with suspects. (Photo Source: Live 5)
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A longtime police negotiator says listening is the top priority during standoffs with suspects.

Charleston County Sheriff's Lt. Rita Zelinsky has been a negotiator for 10 years.

"There's a big misconception that negotiators have to be smooth talkers and good talkers," Zelinsky said. But Zelinsky says negotiators want to make sure the person behind the door is allowed to talk and vent.

"You have to be willing to wait. Ultimately we want the most peaceful resolution we can get and that means the person coming out," she says.

And when a standoff ends in the death of the suspect like Thursday's standoff in downtown Charleston, Zelinsky says it affects all officers who were involved.

"We're human. Police officers have to go home to our families so we do have that feeling, especially when you're talking to someone for awhile," she says.

Zelinsky says there's a Lowcountry negotiation team involving several police agencies. She says they work and train together.

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