Sunday, August 6, 2017

‘Sex slave for sale’: Inside an abducted model’s 6 days of captivity

Italian investigators re-enact the in-suitcase transportation of a model who was drugged by a group, held in a farmhouse and advertised on the internet for sale as a sex slave

To the young British model, the assignment probably seemed routine: Travel to Milan, pose for a few photographs.
Just another ad campaign, her agency told her.
But when she arrived at an address near Milan’s Central Station, any semblance of routine vanished...
“The victim was doped with ketamine,” an Italian prosecutor said at Friday’s arraignment of one of her accused kidnappers, Polish national Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30.

From an original demand of $300,000, the captors reduced their demands to about $60,000, a sum that was never paid.

Read more from the NY Post [HERE]. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

'A World Without Suicide'

This in-depth article on suicide from is worth taking the time to read. It shares, among many other things, the insight from a survivor who attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 

Kevin Hines shares the following in the article:
Kevin rejects the notion that anyone “chooses” to take their own life. “It’s not a choice when a voice in your head, a third party to your own conscience, is literally screaming in your head, ‘You must die, jump now.’” 
He also challenges the idea that suicide is a selfish act, because to a person in extremis, compelled to believe they are a burden, living can feel like the selfish act. 
Yet he also remembers feeling how little it would have taken to deter him that morning in 2000. “I had made a pact with myself, and many survivors report this, that if anyone said to me that day, ‘Are you OK?’ or ‘Is something wrong?’ or ‘Can I help you?’—I narrowed it down to those three phrases—I would tell them everything and beg for help.” 
As he sat on the bus, where he remembers crying, yelling aloud at the voices to stop, nobody said anything. “It still baffles me that human beings can’t see someone like that, wailing in pain, and say something kind—anything,” he says.

Kevin Hines, who speaks across the world is someone Hostage Negotiation conference organizers should consider having at their next conference.  This helps negotiators with comprehending a key effective negotiator concept- empathy. 

So what's the deal with empathy? Here's what I had to say in a previous article [HERE]:
If we as negotiators are trying to influence a behavioral change in the person, it is necessary to understand their current emotions and behavior.  
Empathy is just that- seeing and understanding the perspective of another.  You need this in order to be an effective negotiator and you need to demonstrate it by taking your time to listen (yep, a pattern is developing here- each of the five skills work off of each other).  
Read more on the general importance of empathy here (really, I suggest you read it).
Read the full article at The Atlantic [HERE]. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Al-Qaeda releases South African hostage after almost 6 years

Stephen McGown was kidnapped in Timbuktu, Mali in November 2011 and has finally been released and allowed to return home.

...The Al-Qaeda kidnappers had reportedly demanded a $5 million ransom for his release, but the South African government rejected it and Nkoana-Mashabane said in her news statement that no ransom was paid for McGown’s return. One of his fellow travelers, John Gustafsson from Sweden, was released by Al-Qaeda in June, while a Dutch national, Sjaak Rijke, was freed back in 2015 during a raid by French special forces.

Read more from [HERE].

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dramatic standoff with potential jumper on Verrazano stretches into 5th hour

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Police have engaged in a dramatic, five-hour standoff with a potential jumper on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Wednesday morning, as they attempt to talk the 30-year-old man off the ledge of the span.
Financial issues might have prompted the apparent suicide attempt, said a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Read more fro [HERE]. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

San Diegans hit with 'virtual kidnapping' hoaxes for ransom

The voice on the phone demands a ransom for a family member or co-worker who has been kidnapped.
The caller claims armed men from a Mexican drug cartel are outside and will start shooting if the terms aren’t met.
San Diego police said Wednesday that they have gotten reports of similar “virtual kidnapping” hoax threats made to 10 businesses and individuals last week. Some of the calls originated in the Baja California region of Mexico.
...Ransom amounts varied, from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the apparent ability of the victim to pay, Wahl said.
Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune [HERE]. 
So what can you do? Here's some tips from the FBI and NYPD:
  • Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, “How do I know my loved one is okay?”
  • If they don’t let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle they drive, if applicable.
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if they speak.
  • Attempt to call, text, or contact the victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.
  • While staying on the line with alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.
  • To buy time, repeat the caller’s request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need time to get things moving.
  • Don’t directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.
  • Request the kidnapped victim call back from his/her cell phone.
Read more on the tips [HERE]. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Standoff between SFPD, shooting suspect ends after nearly 15 hours

A nearly 15-hour standoff between police and a shooting suspect in the Castro District ended Monday afternoon after the suspect suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound and surrendered to authorities.

...“With negotiations the officers exhausted every possible avenue to take the suspect into custody without using force,” police spokesperson Officer Grace Gatpandan said. “We try to avoid injury to any individuals, and we will stay out there as long as it takes.”

Read more from the [HERE]. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bill Richardson: America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken

"The blame is theirs. The lesson for us is that America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken."

The following op-ed from Bill Richardson, former governor and US Ambassador to the UN, shares his thoughts that are worth reading and coming to your own conclusions. There's some interesting overlaps with our work in crisis/hostage negotiation, especially in terrorist incidents. Specifically check out the last section of the snippet below:

Otto Warmbier was laid to rest June 22 by his loving family in their town outside of Cincinnati, nine days after he was brought home in a coma after 17 months of imprisonment in North Korea. The North Korean government described him as a prisoner of war, so by their own definition, his death is their absolute responsibility, pursuant to the Geneva Conventions. That the North Korean government kept him in an unresponsive state without proper medical assistance constitutes a crime in terms of international law and flouts common decency.

The blame is theirs. The lesson for us is that America’s hostage negotiation strategy is broken.
I’ve helped rescue hostages from around the world and from North Korea, specifically. In 1994, I negotiated the return of downed Army helicopter pilot from North Korea and the remains of his co-pilot. In 1996, I helped bring American Evan Hunziker back from North Korea. I, and the team at my center, worked for 15 months to try to gain Otto’s release, including a visit to Pyongyang in September.
...First, we have to recognize that time is no longer neutral. In past instances, all that mattered was working toward an outcome, no matter how long it might take. But urgency must be the new norm if we’re to have a chance at curtailing the physical and mental abuse that prisoners can face, particularly when dealing with unpredictable actor

Read more from Bill Richardson's op-ed at the Washington Post [HERE].

Monday, June 19, 2017

NTOA Annual Crisis Negotiation's Conference

  • Access to over a dozen courses, debriefs and breakout classes
  • Two-day trade show with more than 200 vendors
  • Food and drinks at the two-day trade show
  • Breakout classes at the trade show
  • Private function at Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball game Sponsor by Vista Outdoor
  • Tactical Conference Opening Ceremony with keynote speaker
  • Welcome Reception networking event on Monday night
  • Custom Voodoo Tactical Backpack
Get more information by visiting the NTOA site [HERE]. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Melbourne Terrorist Attack and Hostage Situation

The innocent employee fatally shot during a terror attack at a Melbourne apartment building yesterday has been identified as a father-of-one who recently got married. 
Police are investigating whether the Somalian-born Roxburgh Park man deliberately lured them into a deadly ambush after it was revealed he had booked a female escort, whom he took hostage, and triggered an alert on his tracker.
The 29-year-old suspect, who was on parole, was holed up in one of the ground floor apartments with a shotgun and the female escort, and called the Channel Seven newsroom, stating: "This is for IS, this is for al-Qaeda".
The subject was shot and killed after he exited the location shooting at police officers with a shotgun. Two officers were shot and are hospitalized.

Read more at [HERE].  

As the situation unfolded, the 9News reporter earlier said: "There is a man holed up in a Bay Street apartment who seems to be holding another woman against her will."
They said police had flooded the area to reports of explosions or "loud bangs" - but police were negotiating trying to bring the situation to a peaceful end, but the situation was "very volatile"

Read more from [HERE]. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

After Pulse, police may need to change tactics, report says

Police protocol for hostage situations during terrorist attacks may need to change in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre last year, according to the group hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to review the Orlando attack.

Local law enforcement agencies should create policies specifically for terrorism involving suicide bombers or hostage situations, researchers from the Police Foundation suggested in a new journal article that examines lessons from the mass shootings in Orlando — where 49 people died — and San Bernardino, Calif.

The article addresses concerns...

Read the full article at the Orlando Sentinel [HERE]. 

Monday, May 29, 2017


The following is a document shared by Hostage US regarding seafarers that have been kidnapped. You'll find from the snippet below and by reading the document that it is applicable to all people involved in traumatic events,, including crisis and hostage incidents.

This full list of signs can remind a negotiation team of what the hostages (and subject) could be experiencing during the incident and how it can impact their perception and ultimately their actions.

Finally, keep in mind this could happen to us as negotiators too- make sure you take care of yourself.

A post incident guide for you, your family and friends

Seafarers and others in the maritime industry may face the effects of trauma if caught up in an incident as well as the trauma faced by the perceived threat of becoming involved in an incident.

Traumatic events are ones which have the potential to interfere with your ability to function correctly and while most people recover well from such events, it would not be unusual if after an incident, you are now experiencing, or later experience, some strong emotional or physical reactions. Don’t forget it is very common and quite normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have experienced a traumatic event.

Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately after the traumatic event; however sometimes it may take time (days or even weeks) for them to emerge. While not everyone will notice their own distress, it is not uncommon for people who know them well (such as family, colleagues or friends) to recognise that they “behave differently”.

The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last days, weeks, months and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the traumatic event. 

Here are some very common signs and signals of a stress reaction:

  • Blaming someone
  • Confusion
  • Poor attention
  • Poor decisions
  • Heightened or lowered alertness Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Dif culty identifying familiar things or people Poor problem solving
  • Loss of person, place or time orientation Disturbed thinking
  • Nightmares 
Access the full document from Hostage US [HERE]. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Terrorism and Hostage

My recent report on terrorism and hostage negotiation was recently published by Canadian Critical Incident Inc.'s Command Post. Due to its length, they decided to break it up into two parts. The second part will be published in their summer issue.

If you would like a personal copy of the report (not the full issue) feel free to email me. To access the full report and the entire issue, I highly recommend you subscribe to CCI by becoming a member and visiting [HERE].


Law enforcement crisis hostage negotiators are called into action during situations that are tense, unpredictable, anxiety- lled, potentially volatile, and often emotionally driven. The negotiation team must enter a chaotic situation, bring calm, and work collaboratively with the subject to initiate a behavioral change for the purpose of gaining the subject’s voluntary compliance.

Terrorist attacks across the world have demonstrated that these attackers are no longer relying on the use of explosions and gunfire. Many incidents now involve kidnapping as well as hostage-taking, where the attacker will barricade himself to prolong the incident (examples are included in the report).

It is necessary for both American and Canadian crisis hostage negotiation teams (C/HNT) to ensure they are prepared to respond to these unique incidents. They should understand how to work toward a peaceful resolution, and when that is not possible, how to “buy-time” for the tactical team, and develop an effective strategy that considers the conditions of that particular incident.

This article provides techniques and strategies to consider when preparing a C/HNT for a terrorist incident involving hostages and a barricaded subject. These suggestions are not an all-inclusive list. Instead, they should serve as a starting point for negotiators who can further develop and adapt them according to the unique needs of each individual C/HNT. What is universal, however, and should be part of any terrorism-related training, is the inclusion of both lectures and interactive elements...

The first part of the report includes sections on:

  • Recent Attacks Involving the Use of Crisis Hostage Negotiation Teams
  • Use of Third Party Intermediaries
  • Social Media
  • Situation Boards, Role of the Scribe 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lindt cafe siege (Sydney, Australia) inquest report released

The coroner's report was released a few hours ago. It is over 600 pages and very in-deoth, including numerous reflections, opinions, and recommendations regarding the crisis hostage negotiation team's actions.

Among MANY takeaways, this is just one recommendation worth further discussion:

I recommend that the NSWPF develop a cadre of counterterrorist negotiators and provide them with appropriate training to equip them to respond to a terrorist siege. (rec. 21/334, p. 314)

The Sydney Morning Herald shared the following in this article:

Among his key recommendations were:
  • an overhaul of police negotiator training
  • the creation of a specialist cadre of counter-terrorism negotiators
  • a reconsideration of the entrenched philosophy of "contain and negotiate"
  • a clarification of snipers' legal power to shoot
  • a review of the the threshold for calling out the Australian Defence Force in domestic terrorism situations
  • the sharing of criminal bail histories among all Australian jurisdictions
  • more collaboration between NSW Health and NSW Police to identify "fixated" offenders
  • an overhaul of the ASIO triage system for tip-offs
From the Guardian:
  • The “contain and negotiate” police response to the siege failed.
  • Commanders underestimated the threat Monis posed.
  • There was some confusion around the lines of command.
  • Negotiators had received little, if any, specialist training about how to deal with terrorists and did not explore options to communicate with Monis.
And more from the Guardian:
Barnes said it was “entirely appropriate” for police to refuse Monis’ demands to be broadcast on radio, but options could have been explored.
“A compromise could have been explored, such as an offer to let a released hostage read a statement prepared by Monis and vetted by police. The opportunity to use this and to foster engagement with Monis was not sufficiently considered.”
Police could have also communicated better with hostages. The failure to do so increased their sense of abandonment, he said.
Read the full report [HERE].