Hostage Negotiation Techniques
The Importance Of Hostage Negotiation Techniques
Proper hostage negotiation techniques can mean the difference between saving or losing many lives. When a hostage situation takes place, it is always considered a worst-case scenario for law enforcement because innocent people are brought into the equation. There is an elevated risk with armed intervention because the hostage can be harmed by either party.
A skilled negotiator is able to find out exactly what the hostage-taker requires to ensure a peaceful outcome. This is where hostage negotiator techniques begin and first impressions count.
The Negotiator Arrives
The most important people involved at the scene of a hostage crisis are the commander and the negotiator. The commander has authority over everything including the personnel. The negotiator is the person who actually follows through with the hostage negotiation techniques. These two positions cannot be held by one person because the negotiator has to remain calm and objective. This is nearly impossible to do if they also had to make commanding orders as well.
One of the most important hostage negotiator techniques is to stall and buy as much time as possible so the commander can come up with a plan to safely remove hostages. Some questions that negotiators ask when they arrive on the scene are:
- What has occurred?
- Are there any hostage, suspect or police injuries?
- Who made the call?
- What contact has occurred with the hostage so far?
- Where are the hostages in relation to the suspects?
- What is the floor plan?
- What weapons are found on site?
- What is the profile of the person in charge or main hostage-taker?
Negotiators have to gather as much information as possible to know how to effectively deal with the hostage-taker. A psychological profile can help determine how the individual will react in various situations.
Objections And Tactics
The longer a negotiator can string a hostage situation along, the better chance there is of a peaceful ending. Tactics include stalling, pushing back deadlines, asking open-ended questions and redirecting the hostage-taker's attention.
- Safety First – One of the priorities of the negotiator performing the hostage negotiating techniques is to get medical attention to anyone who needs it and then get as many hostages released as possible. Any hostages that are released can often help by providing inside valuable information.
- Keep Things Calm – Hostage-takers are traditionally volatile and angry about the injustice that they have received that has triggered the chain of events. The negotiator has to remain positive and reassuring that things will work so the hostage-taker remains calm.
- Build a Relationship – It is very important that the suspect sees the negotiator as trust-worthy. The negotiator has to be strong yet understanding, offering medical supplies, food or anything else that they may need or want.
Making The Deal
The deal is what is always seen in movies or on television. Demands are usually unreasonable and the negotiator cannot simply give in to just anything. It is their job to slowly chip away at the demands by offering smaller things such as media coverage or transportation as this process continues, the suspects position is slowly weakened.
Why Suspects Take Hostages
Every hostage-taker is different and has their reasoning for what they are doing. Some are mentally or emotionally disturbed, illogical or suicidal while others just become human shields to keep them out of the firing line of law enforcement personnel.
The most common types of hostage-takers plan their attack. They are generally well thought out acts by radical political or terrorists groups because they want to achieve a goal. A highly trained negotiator will quickly evaluate the entire situation and know what type of hostage negotiator techniques to employ to achieve the best outcome.