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Suspects in Crisis: Crisis Negotiation Expert Says Negotiating With the Hostage-Taker Requires a Cool Head and Good Listening Skills

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 96,98-100,102,104
Lindsey Bertomen
Date Published
July 2006
7 pages
This is the transcription of an interview with Det. (Ret.) Dominick Misino regarding the principles of hostage negotiation taught in the courses he offers through the Public Agency Training Council.
Misino notes that the classes aim to build upon the skills a student already possesses based on his/her work as a street cop in interaction with citizens. Misino advises that negotiating involves treating people with respect and sensitivity. Since, according to Misino, hostage-taking is generally impulsive and unplanned, the negotiator's objective is to lead the hostage-taker toward action that will ensure both the safety of the hostage and the hostage-taker. This involves building trust between the negotiator and the hostage-taker that will convince him that the best course of action for ensuring his safety and well-being is to release the hostage and let the police take him into custody. The building of trust usually means give-and-take scenarios in which the negotiator gives something to the hostage-taker, such as food or a cigarette, in return for the hostage-taker doing something the negotiator requires. The fulfillment of these small agreements either builds trust or shows the hostage-taker that violation of an agreement will end any future concessions and lead to adverse consequences unless the hostage is released. Trust is not only gained through the fulfillment of agreements but also through listening to the suspect and reflecting an understanding of what he is feeling and what he wants out of the hostage-taking. The transcription includes Misino's account of a case in which the principles taught in his courses led to the successful resolution of a hostage situation.