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DENVER - Police standoffs are unpredictable and intense. An armed suspect can put police and innocent people in danger.

Local law enforcement was faced with three of them recently, one involving a 13-year-old victim lasting 18 hours.

Police at the center of the altercations must be patient and persistent, in nearly all cases crisis negotiators work in volatile circumstances.

"Individuals think they're backed into a corner and there's no other alternative," Denver FBI agent Dave Joly said.

Joly says there are two objectives a negotiator has going in a standoff situation. One of those objectives is public safety. The other objective is to bring calm to any escalating confrontation.

"We're dealing with someone who could be very irrational, and the goal of the negotiator is to bring them to rational state," Joly said.

When SWAT teams arrive so do negotiators. In the last month, they were called to three of these situations. Each one ended with the suspect being shot. At a Denver 7-Eleven, and home in Arvada, there were hostages' lives at risk.

"If someone is putting themselves or others at harm, there would be a deadly force policy, or if someone is pointing weapons, shooting weapons at officers or people," Joly explained.

Deadly force is a last ditch decision, even when talks drag out for hours.

"If we are having a good conversation with this person and we feel like we're making headway, then we'll continue to do that," Joly said.

Joly says a suspect's actions dictate the type of response.

Negotiators are not against hearing demands, but they won't deliver alcohol or drugs.

"We don't want them to have full control, but we want to make sure it's a give and take type situation," Joly said.

As long as the communication betters a victim's chances, while easing tensions; whatever it might take to avoid violence.

"We have to think about public safety while we try to have a peaceful conclusion," Joly said. "Unfortunately, that's not always the case."

The FBI was not directly involved in recent standoffs in Denver and Arvada.The bureau does train local departments to handle crisis negotiations.

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