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Crisis Negotiation Leadership: Making Ethical Decisions

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotations Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 5-25
Jeffrey S. Magers Ed.D.
Date Published
21 pages
This literature review examines the ethical issues likely to be encountered by police leaders in making decisions that will determine outcomes for barricaded and hostage situations.
Ethical decisionmaking requires an organizational climate in which leaders hold themselves and others accountable for adherence to the organization's policies, values, and mission. A number of ethical issues pertain to management decisions regarding the preparedness of the crisis negotiation team. Funding is one of these issues. Training and equipment for the team are often inadequately funded. Since negotiation is a special skill with specific principles, strategies, and distinctive responses, basic and recurrent training for negotiators is critical. This article describes some training programs being offered for crisis negotiators. Regarding equipment for the crisis negotiation team, police budgets often lack any annual allocation for the purchase of new equipment or the replacement of worn equipment. When police leaders fail to meet the minimal equipment needs of a crisis negotiation team, this is unethical, negligent conduct. In addition to funding issues, another critical ethical issue is the use of time. Time is required to establish trust with hostage-takers or barricaded subjects, whose feelings of desperation and anxiety must be addressed prior to negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution to the situation. If a negotiator is confident that he/she is making progress in negotiation, then field commanders must make the ethical decision to provide more time for negotiation before making a decision about a more risky response. Other ethical issues discussed in this paper are the design and implementation of a team concept for negotiations, making a decision that does not comply with standard policy, using third parties in interventions, the use of advisory assistance, lying to and deceiving the subject, and risk assessment of response alternatives. 17 references