Monday, January 6, 2020

Talking With A Terrorist


I recently attended the NTOA Hostage Negotiators Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Aside of listening to some great presentations, I also conducted a research study with +200 negotiators. 

The best way to prepare for a negotiation is practicing for it. In this particular study, negotiators were able to practice in a terrorist scenario where the communication took place via text messaging. If you're interested in this research I'm conducting as part of my role as a research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center/New York State Psychiatric Institute (and also part of Lipscomb University), let me know. 

To add realism to the scenario, the language used by the terrorist is taken from a real-life incident. 

Don't imagine how you would respond in this type of situation, challenge yourself and your team. I'm playing on expanding the study to other teams across the US this year. If you have any interest, email me: mediator.jeff [at] gmail.com. 



Talking With A Terrorist (Research Study) 
We hope to never be involved in a terrorist incident but if it happens, are you prepared to negotiate? Participate in this research study where you get to practice with dialogue from a real hostage incident during a terrorist attack.  

You'll have a chance to practice your active listening skills, figure out how rapport building works in this type of tense environment, and determine what is the best strategy to gain voluntary compliance. You'll be using your own mobile device to interact with actual statements the terrorist made during his attack. This research study is interactive so be ready!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Wife of British-Iranian engineer in Tehran prison fears Soleimani strike has destroyed all hope of release


The wife of a British-Iranian engineer held in prison in Tehran has said she fears he no longer stands a “hope in hell” of being released after the US strike on Iran’s top commander led the region to the brink of war.

Sherry Izadi, 56, told the Telegraph she was “terrified” that any chance of negotiation between the UK and Iran over Anoosheh Ashoori’s 10-year sentence was over.

Read more from the Telegraph [HERE]. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Standoff at Illinois credit union ends peacefully when armed suspect surrenders after 6 hours


An armed robber held a woman hostage for more than six hours before surrendering to police at a credit union in the northern Illinois city of Rockford on Friday night, police said...

“The FBI negotiators worked seamlessly with the Rockford negotiators, and I could not give them enough credit," Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said. "The FBI really stepped up to help us out.”

Read more from the NY Daily News [HERE] and the Daily Beast [HERE]. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Toll It Took


Bloomington police officers cradle the dying, rush toward gunfire and miss holidays with their kids. Over 18 months, they fought for better hours and pay.

...As he gets dressed, Paul sees a Bible quote from 2 Timothy 4:5 hanging above his gun cabinet: “Keep your head in all situations.”
A challenge coin, earned after completing hostage negotiation schooling, goes into Paul’s pants pockets, along with a handkerchief, leather gloves and two pocketknives.
...The conditions, negotiations and day-to-day police work create a stressed home life, Paul said. “The pressure from both sides wears you down.”

Read more from IDSnews.com [HERE]. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business


“The large majority of kidnap victims are successfully ransomed,” Anja Shortland writes in her new book Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business, in which she claims that 81 percent of kidnap-for-ransom victims are returned, unharmed, in under seven days. “Clearly the hostage trade functions surprisingly well in the large majority of cases. How can such a difficult market operate so successfully?

Read more from the SantaFeNewMexican.com [HERE]. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Real Deal Behind the U.S.–Iran Prisoner Swap


Donald Trump celebrated a surprise prisoner exchange with Iran in a tweet on Saturday (Dec. 8, 2019), just hours after a Princeton graduate student and an Iranian scientist were traded on the tarmac of Zurich’s international airport. 

“Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!” he wrote. 

The swap was a rare moment of d├ętente following months of escalating hostilities, which came within minutes of a military confrontation in June, after Iran shot down a sophisticated U.S. drone.

Read more from the NewYorker.com [HERE]. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Best Practices if an Employee is Taken Hostage


What is my duty of care to employees who have been taken hostage?

What are the latest kidnapping trends?

How would I help my employee get back to work after being held captive?


Get the answers to these questions and more at our seminar on May 30th in DC. We will review the latest hostage taking trends. We will use case studies and first-hand experience to review duty of care for your employees and their families should they be taken hostage. We will discuss post-captivity support and reintegration, including health and mental health, assistance with practical challenges, best practices regarding returning to work, and strategies to manage the long-term impacts of captivity. You will hear from:
  • Kieran Ramsey, Director, Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell with Diane Ryan, Family Engagement Coordinator, Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and Hugh Dugan, Principal Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs;
  • Audrey and Percy Pika, sons of an illegal detainee in the Republic of Congo;
  • Chris Costa, Former Special Assistant to President Trump and Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the NSC alongside Mary McCord, Former Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice;
  • Michael Scott Moore, former hostage held in Somalia for 977 days;
  • Michael A. Mason, Senior Vice President, Chief Security Officer, Verizon, and more.

Details
May 30, 2019
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
K&L Gates, 1601 K St. NW, Washington, DC, 20006
Agenda and registration: https://hostageus.org/event/hostage-us-dc-seminar/


Please note, this seminar is not open to media.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Responding to a suicidal person, Fargo police find it's sometimes 'best to back off'

This article offers a reminder that despite our greatest efforts, it does not always go the way we want. That doesn't mean we did anything wrong either- it's the person (subject) who ultimately decides what to do next. This article also gives me a chance to remind everyone working crisis incidents- check in with yourself and each other to make sure you have a self-care plan in place. 


FARGO — Police here did something they don’t often do when dealing with an armed, suicidal man inside an apartment building on a recent Thursday evening.

After exhausting attempts to communicate with him and consulting with his family, officers decided to leave in order to not escalate the situation.

...“We feel that we had the right people out there. It’s just that there isn’t always a good ending to some of these calls — despite our efforts, despite family efforts,” Todd said.

Read more [HERE]. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A look into a Crisis Negotiation Police Training

HARTFORD -- Sometimes the police SWAT team is tasked with the dangerous mission of ending the stand-off with force...
Sgt. Kurt LaFlamme the Commander of North Central Crisis Negotiation Team describes his teams first goal...
“My goal through the negotiation team is to use our skills and our training to prevent the tactical team from ever having to be used, that’s my goal, to use our team and not have to use the tactical team," said Officer Gary Gray, of the Simsbury Police Department. "For a safe outcome.”

In 2012, in Avon, a police stand-off occurred during a domestic incident. Officer Gray was the negotiator.

“...there was a barricaded suspect, he threatened his girlfriend with a firearm. We establish contact with the individual, we made contact through a phone and then through the negotiation process he refused to answer the phone. So, then we had to use loudspeakers a megaphone. So, I made contact with the individual through the course of many, many hours we are able to negotiate the individual coming out...

Read more and watch the video [HERE]. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Improve Your Active Listening Skills With These 13 Strategies

Leaders have an overwhelming number of responsibilities, often distracting or isolating them from others. Unfortunately, this sometimes impacts their ability to truly hear their team's concerns and suggestions. They might have good intentions and ask for their workers’ feedback, but are they really absorbing and acting on that information?

2. Learn To P.A.C.E. The Conversation
Open, two-way verbal communication is the foundation of building rapport. Using the PACE formula maximizes interactions and improves active listening. Purpose: Determine the purpose or core of their message. Ask: Respond with a question to dig deeper and encourage more dialog. Connect: Evaluate their body language to confirm rapport or connection. Encourage: Thank them for their input. - Lisa K McDonaldCareer Polish, Inc.
3. Get (And Stay) Curious
The definition of curious is "eager to know or learn something." If we stay curious during a conversation, we are motivated to connect more deeply with what we hear and ask interesting questions to learn more. If this feels unnatural, start to practice by simply asking, "I'm curious to hear more about..." Try to stay focused and get curious again if you notice your listening declines. - Bonnie DavisDestination Up
Read more from Forbes.com [HERE]. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Impact of Fear and Anxiety

Once the fear pathways are ramped up, the brain short-circuits more rational processing paths and reacts immediately to signals from the amygdala. When in this overactive state, the brain perceives events as negative and remembers them that way.

...Moreover, fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.


Read more [HERE]. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Inside the ransom business


A kidnapper’s phone call announcing that a family member or employee has been abducted is the stuff of nightmares – as is the eye-watering ransom demand that often accompanies this news. How should you respond?

Most kidnappings take place in countries where governments are weak and territory is disputed. Without a police force able to help, you will need to negotiate to get your loved one back. So, what is the “right” price for their life?

When I ask my students this question, their answers range from “I would never pay a criminal or terrorist” to “I’d pay whatever they’re asking for” or “everything I could possibly spare”.

...Some describe this process as wringing the towel dry: kidnappers squeeze and squeeze until the victim’s representatives stick to their answer, “there is no more”. If those paying the ransom permit the kidnappers to literally squeeze them dry, they will pay all they can afford. But knowing that they will have to endure all the painful squeezes (replete with horrendous threats) anyway, they can also set a lower limit and hide some resources from the criminals. If they stick to their guns, they often achieve a release for a small fraction of the first ransom demand.


Read more [HERE].

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Law Enforcement Suicide: How Police and First-Responders Can Support One Another’s Mental Health

Mar. 22, 2019- More law enforcement officers die by suicide than from being killed in the line of duty. For those who dedicate every single day to keeping communities safe, there can be a toll, and this toll isn’t always visible.

The work of a police officer can cause stress, anxiety and depression. It can disrupt sleep, cause friction with family members, create financial worry, and contribute to alcohol abuse and the abuse of prescription pills. It can also lead to a decline in physical health. For some officers, these elements can create a feeling of isolation, hopelessness and helplessness – all risk factors for suicide.

So what can police officers and first responders – as well as their family and friends – do to support each other’s mental health and stop suicide in law enforcement?

Normalizing That “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay”

Law enforcement officers do the work of real-life superheroes, but they are also human, with feelings and emotions. It is normal for them to be impacted by what they see and experience every day. Ignoring one’s emotions doesn’t work. In reality, it makes things worse.

Read more [HERE]. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Listen Like a Hostage Negotiator

“In a volatile situation where someone’s life is on the line, there can be no shortcuts. You must listen, as the hostage taker is all charged up, emotionally and physically.
“He has his goal, so you must hear him out and understand what he wants to accomplish,” Mr. Cohen said. “As a negotiator, you are looking for a win-win situation, and a hostage taker needs an opportunity to vent and let off steam, as their adrenaline is pumping and as they are in the moment. Unless they unload their demands, they don’t have the capacity to hear and consider behavior change.”

Read more [HERE].