The team leader is a senior officer who organizes the crisis response team, selects its members, plans and oversees training, and makes deployment decisions in emergencies. His or her role may overlap with that of the on-scene commander, who is the person in charge of the actual hostage crisis. This individual is responsible for everything that goes on at the crisis scene, from establishing perimeters and traffic control, to directing the activity of negotiators, to deploying the tactical team, to liaising with emergency medical and community services.
Of course, the essence of a hostage crisis response team is the negotiator. The preferred model is to have one primary negotiator and one or more secondary or backup negotiators. The backups take over if the primary negotiator is unable to establish sufficient communication with the hostage taker, if there are language or cultural barriers involved, or if the primary negotiator needs a break after many hours of talking. The role of the communications officer is to keep in contact with all of the individuals and agencies who are important in managing the crisis, such as firefighting and emergency medical services, local electrical power and phone companies, public transportation agencies, local businesses, and the media.
Many departments have a public information officer who is charged with the specific duty of timely, accurate, and rumor-free information to the media and general public, without compromising the operation. The tactical team consists of a Special Weapons and Tactics SWAT unit, specialized marksmen, and other professionals whose sole job is to make a forced entry if and when it is determined by the on-scene commander that negotiations have failed and that hostages are in imminent danger.
Considering that the highest fatality rate in hostage crises occurs during tactical incursion, the decision to order such an action is an excruciatingly difficult one. In some cases, no actual forced entry may occur, but other tactical measures may be utilized, e. Again, these measures are to used with extreme caution and only as a last resort, when life is in immediate danger. Finally, many crisis teams include a team psychologist who generally has two main roles: 1 participation in team development, training, and selection of personnel; and 2 operational assistance during the crisis itself, including monitoring of negotiation progress, psychological profiling of hostages and HTs, assessment of danger and risk level, monitoring the mental status of negotiators and other personnel at the scene, and participating in both operational and critical incident stress debriefings following the incident.
Just as the basic guidelines for emergency medical procedures must be adapted to the needs of each individual case, so should the following protocol for the psychological principles and practices of hostage and crisis negotiation be thought of as an outline that can be flexibly adapted and modified according to the needs of the situation. Ambulance workers load Clifford Lala into an ambulance in Kenner, La. Friday, June 16, Lala was held hostage by a suspect in the shooting death of Cmdr. Octavius Gonzales of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office. The goal is to keepthe HT in and keep others out.
As a general rule, the perimeter should be large enough to allow freedom of movement of the tactical and negotiating teams, and small enough to be kept under observation and control by the authorities. More than one perimeter, i. An associated need is to provide for scene control, which involves the dual task of working around the realities of the surrounding community, and where possible, getting the surrounding community to work around the needs of the crisis team.
This includes marshalling medical services, controlling local traffic, dealing with the media, and keeping the surrounding community sufficiently informed to protect their safety. Obviously, some form of communication must be established with the HT because the sooner you begin a dialog, the less time he has to consider drastic options. While face-to-face contact between the negotiator and the HT is categorically discouraged because of the potential danger involved, any safe means of communication should be established as soon as possible. For convenience, telephone contact is most commonly used, sometimes by means of a special throw phone with a dedicated line.
First, when beginning negotiations, try to minimize background distractions, such as more than one person speaking at a time, background radio chatter, road noise, etc. Keep your voice firm but calm, and convey your confidence in the fact that this is a temporary crisis that will be resolved safely.
To build rapport, ask what the HT likes to be called. When in doubt, address him respectfully. Try to use a name that is familiar to him. Set the standard of mature, adult conversation from the outset. You want to avoid either talking over the head of the HT or talking down to him or trying to mimic his pattern or level of speech too closely. A few minutes of conversation should allow you to adapt your own speech to his style and rhythm.
Even with foul-mouthed HTs, avoid using unnecessary profanity yourself.
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Remember that people who are stressed or angry are more likely to use profanity. You are trying to model mature, adult speech and behavior in order to calm the situation. So, just as you modulate your voice tone in the direction of greater control and rationality, do the same with your speech content. For emotional HTs, allow productive venting, but deflect dangerous escalation of speech tone and content. Instead, modulate your own speech style and content in a calming direction. Clarity is a general principle of negotiation and all forms of crisis intervention.
Focus your conversation on the HT, not the hostages. In most circumstances, the less the HT thinks about the hostages, the better. This is especially true where the hostages are not neutral parties, that is, where they may be family members or coworkers who have been targeted to make a point. Remember that hostages represent power and control to the hostage taker, so try not to do anything that will remind him of this fact. Are you injured?
Does anyone need medical attention? Is everybody safe for now?
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Be supportive and encouraging about the outcome. If there is a chance of saving lives, then interpret the situation any positive way you can. If shots have been fired, point out that no one has yet been hurt. If injuries have occurred, emphasize the lack of fatalities so far. If a hostage has died, focus on saving the rest. The emphasis should always be on what the HT can still do to save his own life and score points in his favor, that whatever he has done so far, the situation is still salvageable:.
If the HT does something constructive, reinforce it. This applies whether the action is a major thing, like release of one or more hostages, or a seemingly minor thing like allowing the hostages to eat or go to the bathroom, or keeping the phone line open. The aim here is to establish a pattern of constructive actions that allow the HT to reap repeated positive reinforcement, leading ultimately to his surrender with no further injuries to anyone.
Demands and Deadlines. One of the defining characteristics of most hostage crises is the presence of some form of demand, which may range from the immediately practical food, transportation to the more grandiose release of political prisoners, access to media to the bizarre or psychotic freedom from conspiratorial persecution; emancipation of downtrodden classes.
Most demands will be of the first type, and most experts would agree with the following principles and practices. The standard operating procedure in hostage negotiations is to make the HT work for everything he gets by extracting a concession in return. The is to maintain your bargaining position without unduly agitating the HT and triggering a violent confrontation. Meanwhile, tell me Where the hostages are strangers to the HT, as in the case of robberies, and where the HT has specific, utilitarian demands food, escape , many HTs will relinquish hostages that they perceive as being too much trouble to keep around, such as sick or injured victims, crying children, or overly emotional hostages, while holding on to the more healthy and manageable ones.
Where there is only a single hostage or very few hostages, and where the hostages are known to the HT, as in a family argument or workplace beef, the situation is more dangerous because the hostages have a particular personal or symbolic value to the HT. Additionally, there is a greater chance that the HT may be exhausted, agitated, intoxicated, delusional, suicidal, homicidal, or any combination of the above.
In such cases, conventional hostage negotiating strategies may overlap with suicide intervention and other crisis intervention strategies. The goal is to ignore the deadline and let it pass by keeping the HT engaged in conversation about something else. If there has been no conversation with the HT for a while, try to initiate contact prior to the deadline and keep him engaged and distracted. Use the passage of time to expend adrenalin and let fatigue set it, but beware of total exhaustion which may lead to heightened irritability and impulsive action.
As a general rule, however, the more time that has passed without injury, the more likely is a nonlethal outcome to the crisis. Nobody likes to surrender.
Hostage negotiations: Psychological strategies for resolving crises
Yet, by definition, the successful resolution of a hostage crisis entails the safe release of the hostages and surrender of the HT to law enforcement authorities. Thus, anything the negotiating team can do to make this easier for the HT will work in favor of saving lives. Trying to manipulate or intimidate a HT into capitulating may have the opposite effect because few people want to give up as a sign of weakness.
Rather, a successful resolution will usually involve convincing the HT to come out on his own with as much dignity preserved as possible. On the strength of practical experience, a basic protocol, or surrender ritual, has evolved to guide negotiators in their efforts to safely resolve a crisis.
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As with all such general guidelines, each negotiating team must adapt this system to their particular situation and type of HT. To begin with, any plan must be understood, agreed to, and followed by all members of the negotiating and tactical teams. Work out how the HT will come out, how the arrest will be made, and what will happen next. To begin the discussion of coming out, emphasize to the HT what he has to gain by this action at the present time.
Be realistic but optimistic. Minimize any damage done so far. But I want to thank you for keeping rest of those people in the bank safe while we talked this out. Find out what assurances are needed by the HT and if the team can accommodate them. Be sensitive to personal and cultural issues involving pride and respect. Focusing on the psychological makeup and motivation of the hostage taker, the victim, and the negotiator, this work equips offers information that allows for fast, safe and accurate decision making.
Psychological Aspects of Crisis Negotiation, Second Edition : Thomas Strentz :
It describes how to react when dealing with suicidal hostage-takers, police-assisted suicide and crisis negotiations in a correctional setting. He has been there and "done it. It is a great book to "carry in your CNT bag" as you give excellent recommendations on strategies to utilize when negotiating with disturbed individuals. Strenz goes into how to negotiate and what to say to different types of hostage takers. He delves into what you say to an adolescent hostage taker, a suicidal hostage taker, an inadequate personality, a paranoid schiz, a bipolar hostage taker, an extremist, even a police assisted suicide who takes hostages.
This section is worth its weight in gold because he not only gives you the rationale, he gives you lists on where to go with a negotiation and what to say and not to say. Aumiller, Ph. He organized material to make it useful even at the scene of a hostage situation. So if you want a good read and a good reference in the area of operational work, order Thomas Strenz Psychological Aspects of Crisis Negotiation. You will not be disappointed. You arrive at the location. From the information you've been given, an individual or individuals has taken at least three or ten people hostage.
There are demands made, threats boasted, and a deadline given. With all of the hysteria surrounding the scene, how do you discern what is really going on, how do you know who you are dealing with - and just what his - or their - state of mind is? Focusing on the psychological makeup and motivation of the hostage taker, the victim, and the negotiator, "Psychological Aspects of Crisis Negotiation" equips those on the scene with vital information that allows for fast, safe, and accurate decision making.
The author, a seasoned FBI agent and crisis negotiation instructor, divides the content of the book into five comprehensive, yet accessible parts. The topics in Part I discuss negotiation basics: the traits and training necessary for success, the toll that stress takes on the negotiator, negotiation teams, and the effects of third-party involvement in the process.
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Part II describes how to react when dealing with suicidal hostage-takers, police-assisted suicide, and crisis negotiations in a correctional setting. Convert currency.
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