Police add texting to crisis negotiation arsenal
A minute later, Wells typed again, determined to keep the communication going.
"This doesn’t have to go down like this."
"Do you need anything? Water? Food?" Wells tried after another minute.
Finally, a reply.
"Water," Cook wrote.
"As soon as he wrote water, I thought, ‘OK, I can work with this,’" Wells recalled later. "We’ll get something figured out."
Wells asked Cook to roll down his window so an officer could toss a bottle of water into his SUV, which was disabled by tire-popping spikes laid by police.
"This guy throws like a girl," Wells texted, fishing for Cook’s state of mind.
"Thanks. He does throw like a girl," Cook wrote afterward.
Then a smiley face.
It was the cue Wells had been waiting for, proof Cook had relaxed enough to perhaps resume talking by phone, which had been the goal all along.
Looking back, Wells said having someone’s responses in text form could be beneficial during negotiations, providing a chance to show them to a relative or another negotiator for guidance.
But the negatives, including the potential to be misunderstood and absence of emotion and real-time give-and-take, outweigh the benefits, he said.
"Can I call u?" Wells then asked Cook.
"OK," Cook replied. He surrendered 15 minutes later.