As I reflected on my time as commander of my former agency’s Hostage Negotiations Team, I realized that eight of the 15 negotiators was a woman. It was not necessarily by design. It was just the way it shook out. They competed for the spots and outperformed other candidates; male and female.
The Incident Commander (IC) is brand new. He has spent the last three years as a sergeant in the Property and Evidence section. He was promoted to sergeant four years prior and spent one year running a squad before being transferred to Property and Evidence. Two months ago he competed for and was ultimately promoted to lieutenant.
“I’m telling you now man, if y’all do anything foolish, these people are gonna get hurt,” Mike said after taking 12 people hostage during a botched robbery. Our being there meant that we wanted him to surrender peacefully. In other words, we wanted Mike to say, “Yes.” His utterance was an emphatic “No.”
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.
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....
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?”