FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit Careers

The Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) is a member of the Critical Incident Response Group, a major division within the Federal Bureau of Investigations.  This elite group of tactical personnel remains on call around the clock to support tactical units with standoffs, suicides, hostage situations, kidnappings and hijackings.  CNU operatives are usually called in to respond to domestic and international crises where U.S. citizens are being illegally detained by terrorists or criminals. Originally established in 1990, CNUs have participated in the resolution of more than 300 such incidents.

Purpose and Function of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit

The purpose of the Crisis Negotiation Unit is to provide negotiating strategies and conduct negotiations in the field independently or in conjunction with FBI tactical units like SWAT and HRT.  The CNU is also responsible for managing the training and preparation of hostage negotiators working within the program.  This involves researching prior crisis incidents as well as collecting information from multiple channels including psychological studies and law enforcement reports.

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The Crisis Negotiation Unit is headquartered at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, where it provides periodic instruction and ongoing training to field negotiators. Special Agents who are accepted as CNU members must complete the two week National Crisis Negotiation Course. CNU also administers numerous exchange programs with various government like Israel and the United Kingdom, in order to gain and share knowledge about crisis negotiation methodologies. CNU also operates the Law Enforcement Negotiation Support System, which distributes negotiation information to local and state police organizations.

Crisis Negotiation Unit Job Description

FBI Crisis Negotiation jobs will involve fulfilling the following responsibilities:

  • Assess the major actors within a crisis situation in order to determine propensity for violence and willingness to dialogue
  • Discretely enter crisis zones and initiate dialogue with terrorists and criminals
  • Endure extended periods of dialogue and crisis management
  • Maintain operational knowledge of a wide variety of crisis incidents
  • Manage instructional programs for new and continuing negotiators
  • Provide credible psychological assessments to tactical personnel and advise on response strategies
  • Manage databases housing incidents and responses from around the world

Crisis Negotiation Unit Salary

Like all Special Agents, the minimum pay grade a Crisis Negotiation Unit member may receive is GS-10 rating.  If the negotiator is assigned to the elite Hostage Rescue Team, a CNU operative may receive a rating as high as GS-14 or GS-15, but in general field operatives are limited to a salary rating cap of GS-13.  Some members of Crisis Negotiation Units may be considered supervisors or instructors and may be promoted to a higher pay grade.  For 2012, the GS pay scale for these levels was as follows:

General Schedule Grade
Pay Range
General Schedule 10
General Schedule 13
General Schedule 14
General Schedule 15

This is only the base salary and is usually adjust 12.5 to 28.7 percent for cost of living.  Field operatives in CNU teams are also granted Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) pay, which is intended to compensate for long hours and constant availability.  As federal law enforcement officers, CNU personnel also enjoy a superlative benefits package that includes health insurance, life insurance, long term care insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, and full retirement after 20 to 25 years of employment.

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