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Handling Hostage Situations

NCJ Number
Police Journal Volume: 62 Issue: 1 Dated: (January-March 1989) Pages: 49-55
S Sen
Date Published
7 pages
Hostage situations are analyzed in terms of the types of hostagetakers, the types of situations involved, and the role of the police in addressing hostage situations.
Hostage-takers can be grouped into three categories. Professional criminals are the easiest for the police to handle. Psychotics are unpredictable and require the involvement of psychologists or psychiatrists. Terrorist groups are the most difficult to handle due to their total dedication to their causes and to their skill in using tactics to promote their ideologies. Hostage situations take many forms. In addressing them, the police should make the saving of lives the overriding principle. Time is the most important factor in handling a situation in that time is necessary to allow development of some rapport between terrorists and hostages and to permit fatigue to become a factor. Negotiators must slowly establish communication with the hostage-takers. Using family members or other negotiators other than the police entails many risks. Other principles for handling hostage situations include isolation of the area and avoidance of deception. A policy against ransoms is a deterrent against hostage seizures.


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