Crisis negotiation

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The HRT is part of CIRG’s Tactical Section, which includes the Bureau’s SWAT program and units that specialize in crisis negotiation and surveillance and aviation support. CIRG maintains a fleet of aircraft for rapid deployments, and HRT operators often call upon crisis negotiators, behavioral analysts, and other CIRG experts to carry out their missions."

Crisis negotiation is a technique for law enforcement to communicate with people who are threatening violence, including barricaded subjects, hostage takers, stalkers, threats, workplace violence, or persons threatening suicide.[1]

Hostage negotiation is a subset, involving negotiation with a person, or groups of persons, for the release of one or more hostages.[2]

'Hostage Incident Types include several types of incidents. A review of hostage and barricade situations has shown that there are generally three types of hostage situations. They cover criminal, domestic and terrorism related.

Criminal situations can include robberies gone wrong, fleeing criminals who take hostages for cover and hostage taking for profit. Hostage takers participate in either well-planned or spontaneous reactions to a situation. An experienced criminal may end up taking a hostage accidentally or as a consequence of flight. The hostages are then used as barter for escape because the criminal is trapped.

Domestic barricade situations have the potential to escalate and spiral out of control due to the potential for previous interpersonal violence issues and mental health concerns. Domestic situations can arise from a dispute into a hostage/barricade situation with little or no warning.

While less frequent, terrorist incidents have the potential to show resurgence domestically and may provide for the most difficult of negotiations as the terrorist may engage in disingenuous dialogue in order to draw in law enforcement or ensure media coverage. Terrorism cases may be may be full planned with specific targets selected. The operation will likely be well thought-out and well rehearsed before it takes place.

Regardless of the type, each incident requires dedicated negotiation, but which is often begun by the first responding police officer. Jonathan Greenstein applied this concept in the development of several Hostage Negotiations training programs that focused on the First Responder. In 2011 the concept that a first responder would have to initiate negotiations was applied to a Missouri Missouri POST (Police Officers Standards and Training Course) .

Modern hostage negotiation principles began in 1972 when, then New York City Police Detective and psychologist Harvey Schlossberg recognized the need for trained personnel in the intervention of hostage situations. Schlossberg had worked on the "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz case and had instituted other psychological principles in police work, including implementing psychological screening of police applicants, a now standard procedure in virtually all police agencies throughout the United States, and the use of hypnosis in police interviews of witnesses and suspects.

The first Hostage Negotiation Teams were often created as elements of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Teams and were often utilized simply to create a diversion or delay for the deployment of SWAT Teams. Hostage negotiation teams are often deployed in conjunction with SWAT Teams or sometimes independently.

The FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit and Singapore Police Force Crisis Negotiation Unit are examples of specialized units trained in these techniques.[3]


  1. ^ Strentz, Thomas (2006). Psychological aspects of crisis negotiation. CRC Press, ISBN 978-0-8493-3997-4
  2. ^ Defense Information Access Network, United States State Department (1987). Hostage negotiation: a matter of life and death. DIANE Publishing, ISBN 978-0-941375-01-6
  3. ^ Greenstone, J.L.(2005). The elements of police hostage and crisis negotiations: Critical incidents and how to respond to them. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press. Currently under Taylor and Francis Publishing Group.

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