Two weeks ago, I attended the SaaStr 2017 conference in San Francisco. It was a collection of Software- As-A-Service start-up CEOs, CFOs, COOs as well as marketing and sales geniuses. They meet once a year to network, listen to speakers and view/sell the latest products. These attendees, by my limited observations were all 30 to early 40-somethings; all wicked smart and extremely successful. I was clearly one of the dumbest guys in the room.
Differences in the personality types of hostage-takers (HTs) you may encounter should also be considered when planning the appropriate intervention technique. Different people have different sensitivities, needs, and goals. Your ability to influence the HT’s behavior and ultimately the incident’s outcome is significantly dependent upon the ability to address the personality type.
Which elements need to be assessed as the event unfolds? It starts with determining which type of event we are asked to manage. The degree to which the person on the other side has prepared for the event speaks volumes about his intent and determination and gives a pretty good indication of the challenges we will face as we move toward resolution.
Negotiators are the people on whom the on-scene commander relies to provide an analysis of the behavioral and contextual factors at play during an incident in order to help the development of a strategy for resolution. Get it right and we will get little recognition. Get it wrong and the blame will be at our feet.
Most people who think they are good listeners underperform. There is some research that suggests they do so by as much as 60%. This overconfidence impedes their success as it prevents them from truly understanding the motivation of the other side.
Sam Felder (not his real name) had barricaded himself in his home. Suffering from hellacious migraines and post-traumatic stress, he told his wife he could not take it anymore. Sam loaded his handgun and told her to leave. She complied, ran to a neighbor’s house, and called the police. Police attempted to negotiate with Sam for close to 10 hours. It was the end of June and sweltering out. The agency managing the incident elected to cut power to Sam’s home. It was done, I was told, because Sam had been using power tools to barricade himself into the basement of the home with planks and 2x4s. Not sure if it was a move I would have made based on the circumstances but it was done. The managing agency reached out to my team for mutual aid support.
Last month I wrote about how law enforcement should dispatch negotiations teams to active violence/shooter events noting that many believe there is no role for us to play. I have been latently criticized for such thinking. In the article, I posed the question, what are we to do when the event transitions from dynamic to static? On June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, we learned.
I had a conversation with a veteran SWAT operator not too long ago about how we would respond to Beslan-styled attack at a local community college. He posed a question “would I favor negotiations in such an attack?”
A woman calls 911, hysterical. She tells the call taker that her boyfriend, a military vet, is despondent and threatening to commit suicide by way of a handgun in his home.
“We want four million dollars, forty 1,000-year-old ginseng roots, a 50-troop military helicopter, to take us to Thailand…and four bullet-proof vests.” These demands (and they are actual demands made during an incident) could stymie most hostage-barricade managers. To the lesser-trained they seem non-negotiable. Demands and deadlines tend to crank up the stress level for decision-makers. Generally speaking, they shouldn’t and here’s why.