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Twenty-Five Most Serious Errors Made by Police Hostage and Crisis Negotiators

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 107-116
James L. Greenstone Ed.D., J.D.
Date Published
10 pages
This article lists 25 serious mistakes that should be avoided or corrected in police hostage and crisis negotiations, and suggestions are offered for how to prevent or correct each error.
Among the errors listed are choosing the wrong negotiator for the specific negotiations, not understanding the type of situation to be negotiated, timing the negotiations incorrectly, not making meaningful contact with the other party, failing to use appropriate intelligence intelligently, and failure to keep all parties focused on problem solving. Other errors listed are not recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the other side, not understanding the mind-set of the other party, ignoring safety issues, negotiating without sufficient time, not knowing when to walk away from the negotiations, and negotiating without understanding one's primary objective. Also mentioned are the following errors: failure to understand the interests of the other side, not appreciating the validity of an argument, having no sense of alternatives to negotiations, failure to understand the nature of the relationships among the parties, using ineffective communication skills/techniques, and proceeding without knowing the willingness and ability of the parties to make and keep their commitments. The remaining errors listed are entering negotiations without considering options, approaching negotiations without first analyzing the perspectives of all parties to the bargaining, taking the attitude of "winner takes all" while "loser takes nothing," adding information to the negotiations, failure to practice negotiation skills, treating the negotiations as an individual rather than a team process, and failure to remember and avoid the other 24 errors. 1 figure and 4 suggested resources