U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Different Mindset: Negotiation Challenges for Today's Critical Incident Responders

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: 22-24
Melanie Roush
Date Published
3 pages
This article discusses the types of crisis negotiation required in current critical incident response.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) holds statistics on about 3,000 crisis incidents and shows that only 12 percent of incidents are hostage situations, while 88 percent are non-hostage related. In the majority of incidents that police deal with, the biggest demand is “leave me alone” or “go away.” In these situations, police have less control because unlike with a hostage taking, there are often no clear goals or substantive demands. The police are responsible for gathering information and intelligence to determine what led to the situation. The loss of life is greater in non-hostage situations than it is in hostage situations. Over 75 percent of crisis incidents occur in the home, and 88 percent of the time police are negotiating with a male suspect. Just over 70 percent of the incidents in homes are unplanned and are often the result of domestic problems. The goal when dealing with emotionally disturbed persons is to move the person, who feels that there are no other options, toward seeing that there are other options. The underlying thought of people in crisis is that they are alone. Police must connect with the persons, find a way to build trust, and give them hope and validation. Emotionally disturbed behavior can result from several different factors, including mental illness, a mixture of stress, personality disorders and ideology, and substance and alcohol abuse. Crisis negotiation is what police do here and now when they get the chance to negotiate. Resolution negotiation takes place after the immediate crisis has finished and the purpose is to resolve issues in the longer term. Tips for negotiators include maintaining safety and containing the situation; having a strong introduction by being polite, respectful, and helpful; using language skills, body language, and tone to convey understanding; and gaining the person’s trust.