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Crisis (hostage) Negotiation: Current Strategies and Issues in High-Risk Conflict Resolution

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 10 Issue: 5 Dated: July-August 2005 Pages: 533-551
Gregory M. Vecchi; Vincent B. Van Hasselt; Stephen J. Romano
Date Published
July 2005
19 pages
This paper reviews three primary components of crisis negotiation: the incorporation of crisis management and intervention in current broad-spectrum approaches to crisis negotiation, the FBI's Behavioral Change Stairway Model, and role-playing as an important tool in the assessment and training of crisis-negotiation skills.
Once a person's coping mechanisms fail, normal functioning is disrupted and behavior tends to become irrational and emotional. This is the mental and behavioral state of most hostagetakers; therefore, restoring the person' ability to cope through the recovery of baseline functioning levels is the primary purpose of crisis intervention. Achieving this through crisis negotiation involves establishing communication and developing rapport, buying time, defusing intense emotions, and gathering intelligence that can assist in guiding negotiation/intervention strategies and tactics. The Behavioral Change Stairway Model (BCSM), developed by the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit, guides the negotiator's relationship-building with the hostagetaker. The BCSM consists of five stages: active listening, empathy, rapport, influence, and behavioral change. Progression through these stages occurs sequentially and cumulatively. In recent years, role-playing has become a primary tool in the evaluation and training of crisis-negotiation skills. Role-playing is used to provide simulations of real-world crisis incidents. Suggested role-playing formats involve three categories of simulated hostagetaking in the contexts of family-domestic, workplace, and suicide. Suggested role-playing scenarios in these crisis contexts are offered in this paper. Advancements and limitations in the field of crisis negotiation are noted, and suggestions for future work in hostage negotiations are offered. 2 figures and 47 references