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Hostage Situations in Detention Settings: Planning and Tactical Considerations

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 1-14
Kenneth J. Peak Ph.D.; Eric Radli; Cecil Pearson; Darin Balaam
Date Published
October 2008
14 pages
This article discusses planning and tactical considerations for hostage situations in jails and prisons.
The article notes that rioting in jails and prisons and hostage taking are explosive and dangerous situations from beginning to end. Background on the history of hostage taking is provided, along with a sense of the scope of the problem, the perpetrators involved, and administrative concerns for consideration. The authors provide a detailed discussion of emergency planning to counter these situations, noting that successful resolution requires a controlled, measured response; clear lines of authority; and effective communication. Key to this area of planning is resource allocation, implementation of an incident command system, training requirements for personnel, and recognition of warning signs of an impending problem. Tactical considerations discussed include use of response teams, considerations regarding the use of force, the negotiation approach, and the elements of that process. The authors conclude with a section on incident aftermath following the resolution of a hostage situation. Three important areas of concern are presented to include a critical incident debriefing process, administrative considerations regarding recovery of the facility itself, and psychological aspects of treatment for the now former hostages. The article notes that proactive strategies can significantly reduce the potential for major crises, and a critical requirement is to have a coordinated plan to address the incident. 64 notes