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Hostage Negotiation Study Guide 2003

NCJ Number
Date Published
13 pages
This study guide presents principles for hostage negotiation that are flexible and adaptable to various law enforcement situations.
The study guide first provides an overview of the motives and characteristics of hostage-takers, as well as the various opportunities for and dynamics of hostage-taking. The choices for the hostage-taker are also identified: martyrdom (killing the hostages and committing suicide), lessening the demands to a more achievable proportion and continuing negotiations, and surrendering to police. There are four choices for police commanders at a hostage situation: traditional confrontational response with a massive show of force, selective sniper fire, the use of chemical agents, and containment of the area and negotiation by a specially trained negotiator. The first three strategies will almost always result in injury. This guide describes the responsibilities of the first investigating patrol officers. These include physical isolation of the scene and keeping onlookers beyond the police safety line; containing hostage-taker mobility to the smallest location in the building or exterior area and denying the hostage-taker an observation point for the police presence and activities; evaluation of the situation; gathering cursory information; assessing the threat and estimating the location of the command post and proposed positions of backup officers; and reporting the number and identities of hostage-takers and hostages. Information developed should include clothing descriptions, precipitating events, the size and locations of the dangerous zones, recommended entry routes of police officers, types of weapons involved, and directions or line of fire. Tactical teams will immediately establish physical and organizational boundaries for their operations. The study guide describes the responsibilities of the Strategic Operations Command (SOC), which is responsible for logistics, liaison, and coordination; the Tactical Operations Command, which formulates the tactical plan, makes recommendations to the SOC, and executes the plan with SOC approval; and Crisis Negotiation Teams, whose training, special skills, knowledge, and police experience are required to implement the tactical plan. Various types of strategies are briefly described, including negotiation strategies. The guide provides a negotiator checklist for the arrival interview with the first responder, a checklist for data collection on the hostage-taker, a description of strategies and methods for various stages of negotiation, an outline of stress reactions of the hostage-taker, and listing of topics for a task evaluation and evaluation of the negotiator.