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National News Story Says Text Messaging May Be Useful When it Comes to Hostage Situations

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A national news story out of New York commented on how law enforcement personnel are increasingly using text messaging when dealing with perpetrators, particularly in hostage situations. Missoula Police Department Detective Lieutenant Scott Brodie said Missoula has done something similar:

“We have had occasions where our negotiators have communicated with individuals who are in a crisis of one kind of another via text messaging,” Brodie said. “We obviously prefer to be able to talk person to person, on the telephone like a hardline or a cellphone if we can, but sometimes that’s the only option we have is they’ll only respond to text.”

Brodie said there are many more advantages of speaking voice-to-voice when in hostage situations as opposed to texting.

“You can kind of read the tone, you can read the emotion, and gauge what level of crisis a person is in,” Brodie said. “Obviously you can do that better than with a text message. I equate text messaging with email. Some people misinterpret emails and obviously a text is similar. You can’t read a person’s tone, or you could misinterpret a person’s tone, and turn what otherwise of been a ratcheting down of the crisis mode, and inadvertently raise it. Then you’d have to start from scratch.”

Brodie said these days, landlines are harder to come by and with cellphones as a last resort, texting becomes a front runner when it comes to communication with a perpetrator.

Detective Lieutenant Scott Brodie:

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