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Role of the Psychologist in Crisis/Hostage Negotiations

NCJ Number
Behavioral Sciences and the Law Volume: 16 Issue: 4 Dated: Autumn 1998 Pages: 455-472
Chris Hatcher; Kris Mohandie; Jim Turner; Michael G. Gelles
Date Published
18 pages
Over the past two decades, psychologists have made major contributions to the development of crisis-hostage negotiation techniques and have performed a variety of roles and functions that have sharply reduced injuries and loss of life in field situations.
The contributions of psychologists have occurred during a period when there has been a notable increase in hostage and barricade incidents involving perpetrators with varied emotional, economic, and political motives. A hostage incident is defined as one in which the perpetrator holds one or more persons against their will in a location known to the police. A barricade incident is one without hostages in which a perpetrator is barricaded, also in a location known to the police, and refuses to surrender. When serving as consultants to police departments, psychologists need to identify the range and frequency distribution of interventions conducted by psychologists during incidents and assess police commander ratings of the impact of psychologist interventions. Psychologists also need to forge new alliances with crisis-hostage negotiation team psychologists, examine skill sets and cognitive decision-making strategies of highly successful primary negotiators, assess cognitive decision-making strategies of hostage takers, and further the understanding of hostage behavior. The use of psychologists and other mental health consultants by police crisis-hostage negotiation teams is considered, and roles and related functions of psychologists on crisis-hostage negotiation teams are detailed. 71 references


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