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Crisis Negotiation Teams and Member Roles, Research Paper Example

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In July 2018, in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, Gene Evin Atkins ran into a Trader Joe’s store while fleeing the police and held hostage shoppers and workers in the store. The ensuing hostage situation led to the death of one woman who was shot by the police as the gunman exchanged fire with the police and two people who suffered gunshot wounds. Despite this significant setback, the crisis, and hostage negotiating team successfully secured the safe release of the remaining 40 to 50 hostages after a three-hour hostage standoff. This incident among, the several hundreds of hostage incidents that happen annually, highlighted the significance and importance of the crisis negotiation teams. In a world with ever-evolving threats, it is integral to national security and the criminal justice system that crisis negotiation teams are effective in the execution of their responsibilities. As such, it is integral to develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the members of the crisis negotiation team. This analysis considers the five essential members of the crisis negotiation team, i.e., 1) incident commander, 2) intelligence officer, 3) primary negotiator, 4) secondary negotiator, 5) logistics negotiator, 6) scribe, 7) tactical team, and 8) healthcare or mental health professionals, and provides an examination the different roles and responsibilities associated with each member.

Incident Commander

Upon the development of a crisis or hostage situation, one individual from within the police command takes up the lead role of supervision of the entire crisis, i.e., the incident commander. The incident commander is the primary and the highest level of command in the crisis or hostage negotiation team (Slatkin, 2015). Their responsibilities span all the activities that take place during and after the crisis or hostage situation. The nature of crisis negotiation requires that all individuals in the crisis negotiation team, especially the incident commander, be able to respond to a call-out at any given time. As such, they should be on standby with all members of their team ready to respond to any situation as it unfolds.

Not only do they oversee the entire operation but they also make all the decisions associated with the negotiation process. They are responsible for ensuring that all protocols associated with crisis or hostage situations are adhered to. However, these standardized procedures are not set in stone and can be altered relative to the crisis or hostage situation as it changes or unfolds (Johnson, Thompson, Hall, & Meyer, 2017). As such, the incident commander must ensure that the strategies and approaches employed by the entire team are adapt to the circumstances that characterize the crisis, such as the perpetrator, hostages, location, and threat level. Therefore, the incident commander must ensure that there are flexibility and adaptation of the model employed in the tactical operations associated with a crisis or hostage negotiation.

The primary objective of the incident commander is to arrive at a peaceful outcome with minimal injury or harm to all affected parties, including the victims, law enforcement agents, and the perpetrator. The incident commander also plays the critical role of liaison between all team members. They coordinate efforts between all team members while retaining the power to make the final decisions on strategy. They report to the commander of the tactical team on all matters associated with tactical aspects of the operation. This role is vital to realizing the stability of the negotiation process by allowing for any tactical advantages that shift the balance of power (McMains, Mullins, & Young, 2020). The constant sharing of information between the incident commander provides opportunities to identify potential sources of shifting power balance from the subject to law enforcement and criminal justice agents. When not handling an active hostage situation, incident commanders are responsible for the coordination of all training activities for all team members. The development of new and effective strategies is reliant on the ability of the negotiators to develop and enhance their negotiation skills (Slatkin, 2015). These skills are only sharpened through regular training and practice. The incident commander must ensure that all team members have the requisite training to improve their negotiation skills and capabilities.

Intelligence Officer

Before the commencement of any negotiation between the crisis negotiation team and the perpetrator, it is essential to the success of the operation that the process is informed by valuable intelligence. As such an intelligence officer must be part of the crisis negotiation team (Kawa, 2016). The intelligence officer is tasked with conducting a thorough background check on the perpetrator or subject. Upon the development of a hostage or crisis, the intelligence officer will commence background checks on all potential or confirmed perpetrators. Furthermore, the intelligence officer is tasked with developing a detailed overview of the crisis. To achieve this responsibility, the intelligence officer will conduct interviews with all persons related or close to the subject or perpetrator, such as family, neighbors, co-workers, and any law enforcement officers who responded to the crisis.

The intelligence collected by the intelligence officer has a two-fold purpose, both of whichh are integral to the success of the crisis negotiation process. First, the intelligence officer provides information that is vital to determining the strategy or style employed during the negotiations by the negotiators (Kawa, 2016). Second, the intelligence information collected by the intelligence officer is vital to the success of the tactical team through tactical information. However, the application of this information is reliant on the decision to use tactical force to resolve the crisis. Given the ever-evolving nature of crises or hostage situations, primary negotiators must undertake training and learning courses issued. These training exercises and courses often provide the primary negotiator’s opportunities to only learn but also apply their knowledge in hypothetical situations.

Primary Negotiator

During the crisis or hostage negotiation, a minimum of two negotiators are required, the first of which is the primary negotiator. The primary negotiator is tasked with one major role, i.e., the establishment of communication with the perpetrator. The main of developing this relationship is to ensure the termination of a seizure by the perpetrator (Lanceley, 2017). As such, the primary negotiator must develop a relationship that is trusting and mutually beneficial to all parties relative to the circumstances that characterize a hostage situation. For the victims, the primary negotiator aims to ensure their safety and release. For the perpetrator, the primary negotiator aims to ensure their safety, relative to the circumstances that define the hostage situation as well as their surrender to law enforcement. To achieve the desired outcomes for all individuals affected or involved in the crisis, the primary negotiator must extract information from the subject. As such, they must assess the emotional and mental state of the subject.

The nature of crisis negotiation requires that all individuals in the crisis negotiation team, especially the primary negotiator, be able to respond to a call-out at any given time (Miller, 2019). As such, they should be on standby with all the requisite equipment Upon arrival on a crisis or hostage scene, the primary negotiator must liaison with the incident commander to ascertain the circumstances that characterize the incident. Before and upon the development of a crisis or hostage situation, negotiators are provided with response equipment that is integral to the negotiation process. The primary negotiator is responsible for the maintenance of these critical tools and devices at all times to facilitate negotiations at any given time. As mentioned, the incident commander is responsible for developing and conducting training for all members of the crisis negotiation team. The primary negotiator is tasked with attending all training programs and/or activities developed and organized by the incident commander (La Bella, 2014). The training undergone by the primary negotiator is integral to developing and enhancing their crisis negotiation skills. Additionally, this process is integral to the development of new and more responsive strategies to address crises or hostage situations. Any absence from any training organized should be communicated to and approved by the incident commander.

The primary negotiator is responsible for maintaining their conditioning in mental and physical health to the standards required for negotiators. Crisis negotiation relies significantly on the abilities of an individual to develop a high level of mental and physical conditioning to execute their responsibilities in the crisis negotiation team (McMains, Mullins, & Young, 2020). The primary negotiator plays a major role in setting the tone for a crisis incident and the execution of the strategies developed by the team and approved by the incident commander. The primary negotiator must develop their acumen for negotiation by developing specific skills, behaviors, and qualities that enhance the probability of success in crisis negotiation. A primary negotiation must be an active listener to achieve success in crisis negotiation. Active listening is integral to extracting information from the subject or perpetrators (Johnson, Thompson, Hall, & Meyer, 2017).

Secondary Negotiator

While the primary negotiator is tasked with the negotiations from the onset of the crisis, a secondary negotiator is required for the success of the process. The secondary negotiator provides support to the primary negotiator through strategy discussions (Kawa, 2016). Furthermore, they relay information obtained from outside sources to the primary negotiator, which plays an integral role in facilitating the negotiation process. Additionally, the secondary negotiator helps the primary negotiator by preserving a conducive environment for negotiation processes. One of the ways that they achieve this goal is by being the communication link between the primary negotiator and other members of the crisis negotiation team. In the event the primary negotiator is unable to continue with the negotiation process, the secondary negotiator acts as a substitute and takes up the roles and responsibilities in the process.

Scribe

The scribe is a member of the crisis negotiation team who is tasked with recording information pertinent to the case on a large whiteboard (La Bella, 2014). This board is integral to the process of information sharing and analysis as it provides a visual aid for all team members on all pertinent issues, events, individuals, or places that are pertinent to helping resolve the crisis or hostage crisis. The crisis negotiation team usually sets up a temporary base within or close to the vicinity of the crisis incident. As the negotiation process begins and unfolds, significant amounts of information that are pertinent to the case are shared among team members. They play a major role in keeping all crisis negotiation team members on the same page, i.e., pursuing team goals and objectives.

Logistics Negotiator (350 words)

The process of negotiation is often a long and complex process that involves cooperation between different elements of law enforcement and criminal justice. To capture all the activities and collaborations in a crisis a logistics negotiator is required (Diaz, 2016). They are tasked with the responsibility of documenting all details associated with the negotiation process. To achieve this, the logistics negotiator may employ either voice recording, or written recording, or both. The records kept by the logistics negotiator provide a chronological account of the crisis, the negotiation process, and any strategies employed relative to the outcomes. This chronological record serves a two-fold purpose. First, the chronological record provided by the logistics negotiator is useful in training for future negotiations. Secondly, the information provided by the logistics negotiator is vital to any court proceeding that takes place after the hostage or crisis is resolved.

Tactical Team

The tactical team has a multifaceted and specialized role in the crisis negotiation team. The tactical team plays a vital role in the tactical operations entailed in the crisis negotiation process. Tactical operations are critical to the success of crisis negotiation because of the influence it has on the circumstances and dynamics of the crisis or hostage situation (Van Hasselt & Bourke, 2018). The tactical team plays a vital role in the control model that defines successful negotiations. They help gain control and potentially influence a crisis or hostage situation by shifting the power balance in favor of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The tactical team is integral to the stability of the negotiation process. Using tactical awareness and advantages, the tactical team secures an environment that facilitates the peaceful release of hostages and the surrender of the perpetrator.

Healthcare or Mental Health Professionals

One of the common characteristics of crisis or hostage incidents is more than half of the perpetrators have a wide range of mental illnesses. Most mentally ill perpetrators depict a wide range of symptoms that can be attributed to paranoia, depression, antisocial personality types, borderline personality types, inadequate personality types, manic types, psychotic types, histrionic personality types, and narcissistic personality types (McMains, Mullins, & Young, 2020). As such, there is a significant need for mental health and other health professionals in the crisis negotiation team. A mental health professional is one of the key members of the crisis negotiation team that has a critical role that is circumscribed. The inclusion and use of the expertise of mental health professionals are associated with few uses of tactical force and more surrenders.

The mental health professional in a crisis negotiation team can offer their expertise to the crisis negotiation team as an on-site consultant. The mental health professional works together with the crisis negotiation team in its on-site command center to develop better insights into the mental health of the perpetrator and potentially effective strategies to secure their surrender as well as the safety of the hostages (Van Hasselt & Bourke, 2018).

Alternatively, the mental health professional can offer their expertise to the crisis negotiation team by providing the necessary training for the development of a better understanding of mental health issues as well as active listening skills (Strentz, 2018). This is a vital role that is crucial to developing and improving the skills and abilities of all members of the crisis negotiation team. Incorporating listening skills in the training and development of other members of the crisis negotiation team inherently improves the team’s performance by enhancing their knowledge on the ideal approaches to resolve a crisis negotiation with minimal to no injury or harm to the victims and the surrender of the subject or perpetrator. As such, the mental health professional assumes the role of a trainer in the crisis negotiation team to develop and enhance its efficacy in handling crisis incidents.

Using their expertise and experience in human psychology and behavior, mental health professionals play a vital role in gathering intelligence that is pertinent to the resolution of crisis incidents. Using the information gathered by mental health professionals, the crisis negotiation team can develop effective strategies to ensure the peaceful resolution of the hostage or crisis incident.

After the resolution of a crisis or hostage incident, the victims often suffer significant mental health complications that may affect their daily lives. As such, the mental health professional plays the vital role of a post-trauma counselor. Providing counseling to the victims not only ensures their well-being but also provides vital information on the impact of crisis or hostage incidents on the victims. It is integral in identifying the factors that exacerbate risk in a hostage or crisis, which can be used to develop a variety of strategies in handling different hostage situations. As such, the post-trauma counseling role complements the intelligence-gathering role.

Despite the significance of healthcare and mental health professionals in the crisis negotiation team, it is important to consider that not all practicing mental health professionals are not helpful to the resolution of a crisis of hostage incident. Instead, the majority of practicing mental health professionals may harm the crisis negotiation process (Slatkin, 2015). As such, it is vital to the success of the operations of the crisis negotiation team that a mental health professional with background experience or knowledge on hostage and crisis negotiation and not a general practice mental health professional is included in the team.

Conclusion

The crisis negotiation team is increasingly important in a world with evolving security threats. As security threats change with globalization, law enforcement and criminal justice systems must be equipped to handle hostage situations. To develop an effective crisis negotiation team an approach that leverages different professionals pertinent to hostage incidents is vital. Ideally, a crisis negotiation team should comprise of eight individuals, i.e., 1) incident commander, 2) intelligence officer, 3) primary negotiator, 4) secondary negotiator, 5) logistics negotiator, 6) scribe, 7) tactical team, and 8) healthcare or mental health professionals. The incident commander is the primary and the highest level of command in the crisis or hostage negotiation team (Slatkin, 2015). Not only do they oversee the entire operation but they also make all the decisions associated with the negotiation process. the incident commander must ensure that there are flexibility and adaptation of the model employed in the tactical operations associated with a crisis or hostage negotiation. The primary objective of the incident commander is to arrive at a peaceful outcome. They report to the commander of the tactical team on all matters associated with tactical aspects of the operation. The constant sharing of information between the incident commander provides opportunities to identify potential sources of shifting power balance from the subject to law enforcement and criminal justice agents. When not handling an active hostage situation, incident commanders are responsible for the coordination of all training activities for all team members.

The intelligence officer is tasked with conducting a thorough background check on the perpetrator or subject. the intelligence officer is tasked with developing a detailed overview of the crisis. The intelligence officer provides information that is vital to determining the strategy or style employed during the negotiations by the negotiators. the intelligence information collected by the intelligence officer is vital to the success of the tactical team through tactical information. The primary negotiator is tasked with one major role, i.e., the establishment of communication with the perpetrator. the primary negotiator must develop a relationship that is trusting and mutually beneficial to all parties relative to the circumstances that characterize a hostage situation. The nature of crisis negotiation requires that all individuals in the crisis negotiation team, especially the primary negotiator, be able to respond to a call-out at any given time. The primary negotiator is responsible for the maintenance of these critical tools and devices at all times to facilitate negotiations at any given time. The training undergone by the primary negotiator is integral to developing and enhancing their crisis negotiation skills. The primary negotiator is responsible for maintaining their conditioning in mental and physical health to the standards required for negotiators. The primary negotiator must develop their acumen for negotiation by developing specific skills, behaviors, and qualities that enhance the probability of success in crisis negotiation. While the primary negotiator is tasked with the negotiations from the onset of the crisis, a secondary negotiator is required for the success of the process. The secondary negotiator helps the primary negotiator by preserving a conducive environment for negotiation processes. The scribe is a member of the crisis negotiation team who is tasked with recording information pertinent to the case on a large whiteboard. A logistics negotiator is required. They are tasked with the responsibility of documenting all details associated with the negotiation process. The records kept by the logistics negotiator provide a chronological account of the crisis, the negotiation process, and any strategies employed relative to the outcomes

Tactical operations are critical to the success of crisis negotiation because of the influence it has on the circumstances and dynamics of the crisis or hostage situation. The tactical team is integral to the stability of the negotiation process. One of the common characteristics of crisis or hostage incidents is more than half of the perpetrators have a wide range of mental illnesses. There is a significant need for mental health and other health professionals in the crisis negotiation team. The mental health professional in a crisis negotiation team can offer their expertise to the crisis negotiation team as an on-site consultant or by providing the necessary training for the development of a better. understanding of mental health issues as well as active listening skills (Strentz, 2018). Using their expertise and experience in human psychology and behavior, mental health professionals play a vital role in gathering intelligence that is pertinent to the resolution of crisis incidents. the mental health professional plays the vital role of a post-trauma counselor. Despite the significance of healthcare and mental health professionals in the crisis negotiation team, it is important to consider that not all practicing mental health professionals are not helpful to the resolution of a crisis of hostage incident.

References

Diaz, L. (2016). Hostage negotiation. Mills & Boon.

Johnson, K. E., Thompson, J., Hall, J. A., & Meyer, C. (2017). Crisis (hostage) negotiators weigh in: the skills, behaviors, and qualities that characterize an expert crisis negotiator. Police Practice and Research, 19(5), 472-489. doi:10.1080/15614263.2017.1419131

Kawa, K. (2016). Hostage Negotiators. Rosen Publishing Group.

La Bella, L. (2014). Careers in crisis management & hostage negotiation. Rosen Publishing.

Lanceley, F. J. (2017). On-Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators. CRC Press.

McMains, M. J., Mullins, W. C., & Young, A. T. (2020). Crisis negotiations: managing critical incidents and hostage situations in law enforcement and corrections. Routledge.

McMains, M. J., Mullins, W. C., & Young, A. T. (2020). Crisis negotiations: managing critical incidents and hostage situations in law enforcement and corrections. Routledge.

Miller, A. H. (2019). Terrorism and hostage negotiations. Routledge.

Slatkin, A. A. (2015). Crisis negotiation for law enforcement, corrections, and emergency services : crisis intervention as crisis negotiation. Charles C Thomas.

Strentz, T. (2018). Psychological aspects of crisis negotiation. Routledge.

Van Hasselt, V. B., & Bourke, M. L. (2018). Handbook of Behavioral Criminology. Springer.

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