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STEPS--Structured Tactical Engagement Process: A Model for Crisis Negotiation

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 29-51
Brad Kelin Ph.D.; C. Meghan McMurtry B.A.
Date Published
23 pages
This article presents a new theory of crisis negotiation called the Structured Tactical Engagement Process (STEPS), which is a flexible model that provides an overall framework for both understanding and influencing a barricaded subject's behavior so as to achieve a peaceful resolution.
STEPS views the crisis situation as a behavioral problem, and the goal of any crisis negotiation is always to change the subject's behavior so that he/she develops the motivation and commitment to surrender peacefully. The STEPS model is based on four assumptions. First, each crisis situation shares a common behavioral goal, i.e., peaceful surrender. Second, barricaded subjects may be at different stages of readiness to commit to the behavior necessary for peaceful resolution. Third, a crisis negotiator's goal is to work with the subject so as to move him/her through the stages of readiness to the final stage of peaceful surrender. Fourth, a subject must move through the steps in order for a crisis to end in the subject's voluntary, peaceful surrender. In the STEPS model, the stages of the subject's behavioral changes proceed from "precontemplation" to "contemplation," to "preparation," and finally to "action." In the "precontemplation" stage, the subject is unable or unwilling to consider the seriousness of his/her situation. At the "contemplation" stage, the subject begins to acknowledge that he/she is in a situation that will require cooperation with law enforcement for the situation to have an outcome that benefits him/her. At the "preparation" stage, the subject agrees there is a problem and is beginning to consider alternative solutions. In the final stage of "action," the subject accepts and commits to the negotiator's proposed resolution of peaceful surrender. This article explains how the STEPS model can be integrated into existing crisis negotiation training. 26 references