Crisis negotiation is a law enforcement technique used to communicate with people who are threatening violence (terrorism, workplace violence, suicide, etc.), including barricaded subjects, stalkers, and most famously, hostage-takers.
There are generally three types of incidents requiring the intervention of a trained negotiator:
- Criminal situations can include robberies gone wrong, fleeing criminals who take hostages for cover, and hostage-taking for profit. These situations may be well-planned or spontaneous. An experienced criminal may end up taking a hostage accidentally or as a consequence of flight. If the criminal is trapped, the hostages are then used as barter for escape.
- Domestic barricade situations have the potential to escalate and spiral out of control. Previous interpersonal violence issues and mental health concerns can cause a domestic dispute to become a hostage/barricade situation with little or no warning.
- While less frequent, terrorist incidents have the potential to show resurgence domestically and may be the most difficult to negotiate. The terrorist may engage in disingenuous dialogue in order to draw in law enforcement or ensure media coverage. Terrorism cases may be may be planned out and rehearsed, with specific targets selected.
Regardless of the type, each incident requires dedicated negotiation. This is often initiated by the first officer(s) on the scene.
Modern hostage negotiation principles were established in 1972 when then-NYPD Detective Harvey Schlossberg, also a psychologist, recognized the need for trained personnel in crisis intervention. Schlossberg had worked on the David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam") case, and had instituted other psychological principles in police work, including psychological screening of police applicants and the use of hypnosis in suspect/witness interviews.
The first Hostage Negotiation Teams (HNTs) were often created as elements of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Teams and merely created a diversion while SWAT deployed. In modern usage, while sometimes acting independently, hostage negotiation teams are often deployed in conjunction with SWAT.
- Strentz, Thomas (2006). Psychological aspects of crisis negotiation. CRC Press, ISBN 978-0-8493-3997-4
- 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
- Hostage Negotiations for the First Responder (Missouri Police Officers Standards and Training Course), Jonathan Greenstein, https://www.scribd.com/doc/77121123/Hostage-Negotiations-for-the-First-Responder-POST-Green-Stein, 2011
- 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.
- “Crisis” or “Hostage” Negotiation? - The Distinction Between Two Important Terms FBI
- Hostage Negotiations for the First Responder - Missouri POST (Police Officers Standards and Training) Approved Technical Training Course: © 2011 Jonathan Greenstein and Creative Management Consultants
- Hostage Negotiations Panel Discussion
- Hostage Negotiations by Jonathan Greenstein
- Hostage Negotiations Panel Discussion at CSI
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