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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70537 Find in a Library
Title: Values and Organization in Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Teams
Journal: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences  Volume:347  Dated:(June 20, 1980)  Pages:113-116
Author(s): H Schlossberg
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 4
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Domestic and international hostage taking are very similar and lend themselves to the use of the same tactics, examined here in conjunction with the role of the police negotiator and the procedures of the Hostage Recovery Program (HRP).
Abstract: Recognizing that hostages are held in order to gain police compliance and that it is just as much in the criminal's interest as it is in the police's interest not to let a situation become violent, the New York City police department HRP trains negotiating teams in the dynamics of hostage situations. The hostage taker is seen as somebody who has reached a point in life where he is totally frustrated and unable to obtain what he desires; the taking of hostages becomes nothing more than an attempt at problem solving. In training police, the greatest emphasis is placed on recognizing the problem solving without making judgmental values about the hostage taker's goals. The same dynamics are at work in a family dispute, a threatened suicide, or hostage taking, and crisis intervention techniques are appropriate. The goal of the negotiator is to become a 'significant other' in the hostage situation. Like a therapist, the negotiator will not advise the criminal to surrender nor offer possible solutions, since they might trigger a negative outcome or establish a direction that the criminal never envisioned. In essence, this is a passive therapy, designed to permit the criminal an opportunity to ventilate and explore various alternatives without the fear of total annihilation. Because of the burden on the negotiator to handle the stress and protect innocent lives, the concept of the negotiating team, consisting of at least two members, is introduced. Current New York police department procedures provide that the first trained negotiator to arrive at the scene will be responsible for negotiating. The basic objectives are to bargain for the release of the hostages and the ultimate surrender of the criminal. Negotiating team activities are: gathering basic information, such as number of individuals involved, threats, types of weapons, etc., organizing the team with one overall supervisor assigining work, overseeing developments coordinating the hostage team with the containment team; maintaining an ongoing analysis of the information; and planning strategy. The negotiating team is made up of volunteers who believe in nonviolent methods and undergo extensive training that involves personal therapy and dealing with personal feelings. In addition to an intensive medical examination, they undergo psychiatric interviews and in-depth psychological testing. In spite of all testing and screening, a profile of the ideal negotiator is nonexistent. Experience shows that a variety of personalities do equally well. (Author abstract modified).
Index Term(s): Crisis management; Hostage takers; Police hostage negotiations training; Police hostage-negotiation units
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