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Local Law Enforcement Hostage/Crisis Negotiation: An Essay on Continued Viability in the Aftermath of the Attacks of 9/11 (From Understanding and Responding to the Terrorism Phenomenon: A Multi-Dimensional Perspective, P 167-179, 2007, Ozgur Nikbay and Suleyman Hancerli, eds. -- See NCJ-225118)

NCJ Number
Robert J. Louden Ph.D.
Date Published
13 pages
This paper discusses terrorist-related aspects of hostage negotiation, including its history beginning with the New City Police Department (NYPD) more than 30 years ago and its role in terrorist incidents given the tactics of September 11.
The original NYPD hostage negotiation plan was developed in response to the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. At the time, the NYPD determined that New York City was a probable terrorist target and that a hostage or siege situation was likely, given such incidents throughout Europe and the Middle East in the preceding years. Actual terrorist hostage scenarios in New York City have not occurred. The events that negotiators have responded to have included trapped perpetrators, emotionally disturbed persons, suicide attempts, high-risk raid and warrant preparation, and kidnap and extortion investigations. Following September 11, an early reaction by a veteran police practitioner was to question whether hostage negotiation had a place in counterterrorism, given the terrorist tactic of launching a deadly attack without warning or conditional demands subject to negotiation. Still, there is evidence that some terror-oriented groups lack the level of preparedness and resolve that apparently characterized the September 11 attack. There is still the possibility that terrorists will use the extended drama of hostage-taking in order to make demands and gain attention for their cause. Also, regardless of whether a terrorist attack allows for hostage negotiations, police agencies must still prepare to deal with criminals and emotionally disturbed persons who hold and threaten hostages. This paper describes the author’s 1999 study of hostage/crisis negotiation units in U.S. police agencies. Based on the findings of this study, he discusses direct-action orientation versus negotiation, the use of SWAT teams versus negotiation, the development of written policies for hostage situations and negotiations, and the selection and training of negotiators. 59 references