Hostage and barricade incidents are amongst the most difficult, emotional, and sometimes potentially lethal situations that a negotiator can be involved in. Often, the hostage taker shows signs of mental illness, drug or alcohol intoxication, or personal disputes accompanied by a high level of emotion. (Feldmann) These contributing factors lead to impulsive and often unpredictable behavior on the part of the hostage taker. It is sometimes impossible for negotiators to anticipate possible outcomes and complications that could arise from these incidents. Negotiators use a wide variety of tools, information, and strategies to try and resolve whatever grievances and demands the perpetrator is exhibiting. The main focus on the part of the negotiator is to keep the hostage alive, then try to negotiate a surrender. There is a considerable risk to both the victims and law enforcement when dealing with a hostage situation. (Feldmann) This paper will identify and distinguish several high risk factors that negotiators and law enforcement use to extinguish potentially lethal situations. The presence or absence of these factors can influence the outcome of a situation for the better or for the worst. Second, this paper will identify several motivations for hostage taking. Why and what would prompt an individual to take hostages? Several influential and background reasons will be examined. Finally, some successful and also failed negotiations will be explored, with possible reasons and explanations to what factors made them either a success or a failure.
Hostage negotiation is as much of an art as it is a science. The negotiator not only holds the lives of the victims in his hands, but the lives of law enforcement and the hostage taker as well. His persuasiveness and communication abilities have the power to protect and save lives. The Hostage Taker
One of the most common reasons for a hostage taking situation is desperation. The hostage taker feels desperate because of either what he has done or what he is doing. (DeFao) Taking a hostage is a split second decision usually made out of desperation. (DeFao) A person who is in the process of committing a crime, for instance a bank robber who has been surrounded or confronted by police, may resort to taking a hostage, or a person who has recently committed a crime and is running away from police is also a potential hostage taker.
The most common hostage situations involve a subject who is holding someone with whom there was a romantic involvement, a family member, or someone whom they have had previous problems with. (Fuselier) Romantic involvement and love gone bad are often the emotional driver which leads the subject to lash out. These cases are also the most difficult to negotiate and unfortunately many of them often end in tragedy due to the delicate nature of the subjects emotional state. The mood of the hostage taker often changes from depression to anger, these mood swings pose difficulties for negotiators because they have to keep changing negotiation strategies. (Fuselier)
The third type of hostage taker is either a disgruntled employee or a student. Workplace violence can often be triggered by stress on the job, oppression from co-workers and boss, less than standard performance on the job. Often employees who feel that they do not fit in with the corporate culture experience multiple levels of stress from both the environment and co-workers. (Feldmann) These intense stress levels often interfere with job performance, which lead to management reprimands, which increase the stress level. The disgruntled employee feels that he is spiraling downward and often blames others for his troubles. (Feldmann) These intense emotional levels often lead to a distorted sense of reality. If the subject is terminated from employment, anger is the stressor and sometimes violence is their way out. (Feldmann) Gaining revenge takes over logical thought and tragedies occur. As far as...
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