Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Does the U.S. No-Concessions Policy Deter Kidnappings of Americans?

"It is the responsibility of governments to apprehend kidnappers and destroy their organizations, whether the hostage-takers are motivated by ideology or by greed. But that does not preclude private efforts to save lives."

Brian Michael Jenkins, of the RAND Corporation, released Does the U.S. No-Concessions Policy Deter Kidnappings of Americans? 
I encourage you to read the full report [HERE]. 

More from the report:

Proponents of the government’s no-concessions policy argued that it was also an effective deterrent. However, RAND researchers found the evidence to support this contention meager and unconvincing.

Here, he importantly points out the difference  between terrorist and criminal kidnappers:

The Logic of Deterrence Logically: 
a no-concessions policy should be a deterrent to kidnapping. No concessions means denying a reward to the kidnappers, thereby removing the incentive to kidnap Americans. Unrewarded behavior is unlikely to be repeated, or so the argument runs. This might be the case for criminal kidnappers who seek only cash, but simply removing one kind of reward does not mean that terrorists, who also have political objectives, could not still obtain other kinds of rewards through kidnappings. I will return to these non-financial rewards later.

His assessment, after reviewing the data:
The available evidence shows no correlation between national policies on concessions and the nationalities of hostages.

Again, I encourage you to read the full report [HERE]. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Homewood PD crisis negotiator on talking a suicidal man off bridge


HOMEWOOD, Ala. — A Homewood police officer is credited with talking a suicidal man off a ledge Monday. And it was all caught on camera. WVTM 13's Marlei Martinez tells you what the crisis negotiator said that convinced the man to change his mind.


From the interview:
Officer Blackmon speaks calmly, a trait that helps him crises like this. He said, " I didn't try to solve all of his problems at once. Just small steps to solve that that big problem. And the first step is coming off that bridge.
 Read more and watch the full interview [HERE]. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

People with depression use language differently – here’s how to spot it

Empathy, clearly an important part of crisis negotiation and invetervention begins with understanding a person's perspective. From that understanding, the following I think you all will find interesting. Click the link at the bottom to read the entire article:


(BigThink.com)- From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression. 
...More interesting is the use of pronouns. Those with symptoms of depression use significantly more first person singular pronouns – such as “me”, “myself” and “I” – and significantly fewer second and third person pronouns – such as “they”, “them” or “she”. This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.

Read more [HERE].

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

CREST Security Review


The red highlighted area was added by me. Simon Wells' work is always worth taking the time to read.

(From Crest Research)

This issue of CREST Security Review (CSR) focuses on ‘transitions’, highlighting research on movements between groups.

From helping extremists reintegrate back into society, to looking at cults and the reasons why people both leave and stay, this issue explores the series of difficult transitions some individuals and groups make.
Download your free issue of CREST Security Review here.

Inside this issue:

  • Sarah Marsden writes for us on programmes that seek to help extremists make the transition from violent groups back into society.
  • Suzanne Newcombe looks at cults and the reasons why people both leave and stay.
  • Refugees often don’t have choices in the series of difficult transitions they make. Christopher McDowell charts the risks and dangers of these transitions.
  • Simon Wells shows us how research has helped track how negotiations progress, giving us examples from two hostage crises.
  • Tina Christensen presents the results from her study into a Swedish programme that helps far-right extremists make the transition to productive democratic citizens.
Each issue of CREST Security Review also features articles outside of its special focus. In this issue we include research on Russian interference in public discourse, the difficulties of communicating across culture, and a mindmap on what people mean when they say ‘I don’t know’ during an interview setting.

Download, read and share 

CREST is committed to sharing research as widely as possible. Tell your colleagues and networks and share the link on your websites and newsletters.
As with all our resources, CSR is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence. For more information on how can you use our content please read our copyright page.
Download your free copy of CSR here: www.crestresearch.ac.uk/news/csr7-transitions/
Talking about this issue on twitter? Use hashtags #CSR7 #Transitions

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Now you can diffuse ANY crisis with the kids! Retired Hostage Negotiator offers top tips to parents for managing children's meltdowns - revealing when to 'stay calm' and when to 'be a boss'


  • In a satirical new Heinz campaign, former NYPD Hostage Negotiator, Jack Cambria shares his tips on how to deal with kids if they run out of ketchup
  • He suggests five different mediating tactics for parents to try if it's dinnertime and they suddenly realize there's no more ketchup in the house
  • Jack also offered tips for dealing with other likely scenarios in which children need to be reasoned with, such as when they refuse to talk to grandma 
Read more from the DailyMail [HERE]. 



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

An Inside Look At Portland Police Bureau's Crisis Negotiation Team


PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -FOX 12 is getting an inside look at the Portland Police Bureau's Crisis Negotiation Team. 
A team of a highly trained officers that are called to deescalate tensions and save hostages in some of the most dangerous situations.  
When these types of incidents happen, people often only see Portland's SERT team in action. But, the CNT is on scene too just not as visibly.
Watch the video and read more [HERE].

Friday, February 2, 2018

How Feeling Bad Changes the Brain



...it turns out that our emotional state has an effect on how much empathy we feel. Our emotions literally change the way our brain responds to others, even when they are in pain. In particular, it is when we feel bad that it can have a consequence on our social world.

...In fact, our emotions are so powerful that when we are in a positive mood, it can dampen how much pain we feel when injured. It provides us with an analgesic-like effect. When it comes to negative emotions, the opposite occurs: our feeling towards that pain is exaggerated.


Wondering how this applies to crisis and hostage negotiation? Hopefully not. Also, thinking this article is about the subjects we deal with- wrong. This explains how our emotions can impact how we approach things. Read more on the concept of 'control' [HERE]. 

...Worse, a recent study, published in December 2017, has shown that when we feel bad it affects our in-built capacity to respond to others in pain. It literally dampens our empathy.

Read more from the BBC [HERE]. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

8 Things You Need To Know About Terrorist Decision Making

The following is from the influential UK-based CREST website and well-known terrorism researcher, Paul Gill. 


Paul Gill gives a breakdown on eight things terrorists consider when making a planning an attack, from an analyse of over 80 terrorist autobiographies

Terrorists from a wide array of ideological influences and organisational structures consider security and risk on a continuous and rational basis. Of course, the rationality of terrorism has been long observed. Traditionally, authors considered the rational adoption of terrorism as a strategy or a tactic. More recently, and perhaps more interestingly, they have examined the kinds of rational decisions and behaviours that underpin the planning and commissioning of a terrorist attack.
Our recent research for a CREST-funded project on terrorist planning and decision making in the context of risk, led to us analyse over 80 terrorist autobiographies. Here are eight lessons from our study.

4. Internal feelings

Subjective factors play a large role in terrorist cost-benefit analyses. Many accounts of the planning phase note internal feelings of ‘tension’, ‘stress’, ‘frayed nerves’, ‘doubt’, ‘frustration’, ‘paranoia’, ‘fear’, ‘inborn sense of danger’, ‘premonition of disaster’, ‘highly sensitised’, ‘hyper-aware’, ‘anxious’, and ‘scared’. Such feelings were also common during the commission of an attack. Attackers note physiological reactions like ‘hand shaking’, ‘heart thumped like a drum’, and an ‘inability to sleep.’
Read more [HERE].


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Why Mental Delusions Are Hard To Break

Understanding the psychology and the perspective of the subjects that you engage is is critical to being successful as a crisis negotiation (That's empathy!). The following article is from the great PsyBlog.



Well-known mental delusions include Capgras syndrome, in which a person thinks all their loved ones have been replaced by impostors.

The reason people find it difficult to break free of mental delusions or hallucinations is down to faulty ‘reality testing’, one psychologist argues.
Well-known mental delusions include Capgras syndrome, in which a person thinks all their loved ones have been replaced by impostors.
Hallucinations and delusions can also be caused by serious mental health problems like schizophrenia.
Part of the brain normally checks strange ideas against reality.
However, said Professor Philip Gerrans, the study’s author, this doesn’t always happen:
“Normally this ‘reality testing’ in the brain monitors a ‘story telling’ system which generates a narrative of people’s experience.
A simple example of normal reality testing is the person who gets a headache, immediately thinks they might have a brain tumor, then dismisses that thought and moves on.

Read the full article [HERE]. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lubbock PD negotiators compete in crisis negotiation competition in San Marcos

... Young said another component is the personal nature of what the negotiator team does.
“We’re there to try and help people as much as they’ll allow us to help them,” he said. “I think the citizens benefit from knowing that the police department is not here just to put people in jail or to kick in doors, but we’re actually here to try and help people on, sometimes, their worst day.”
Read more [HERE]. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

NYT: At Least 5 Killed in Afghan Hotel Attack That Trapped Hundreds of Guests



KABUL, Afghanistan — Five people were found dead in Kabul’s largest hotel on Sunday morning, as authorities hunted the surviving attackers of an armed group that stormed the hotel hours earlier, trapping hundreds of guests during fighting that raged all night.

As the fighting took place, Mr. Rauf and hundreds of other guests spent the night hiding in rooms, wondering whether they would live or die. They were still there at dawn Sunday as sporadic gunfire continued, and most were still alive.

“Why can’t the police rescue us?”

More from the New York Times [HERE]. 


An eyewitness has told the BBC of the terrifying moment gunmen burst into Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel restaurant on Saturday.

The man, who is not being named for security reasons, said he was spared after saying he was an Afghan. 

"Where are the foreigners?" they shouted.

Fourteen foreigners are confirmed to have died, along with four Afghans.

"They were wearing very stylish clothes," he said. "They came to me and asked for food. I served them the food and they thanked me and took their seats. Then they took out their weapons and started shooting the people."

Read more from the BBC.com [HERE].

Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Review: Held Hostage


(Review By Scott Tillema) I’ve found an exciting read for negotiators who enjoy learning from an experienced practitioner! Dennis Flynn, formerly of the Las Vegas PD, shares a collection of stories from his time as a police negotiator in his new book, Held Hostage.


What I love: Dennis isn’t the usual war-story teller, he provides true instruction for those of us looking to learn about what happened, and more importantly, why. Also, he shares interesting experiences that many of us don’t have, and probably never will!

For example, chapter 4 engages readers about a jumper from the Stratosphere, a 109 floor hotel. Instead of a full SWAT call-out, only negotiators were deployed. That will get you thinking about the limits to your BATNA awfully quickly. Dennis shares the details of that negotiation, all the way down to what he was wearing and why.



He talks about forming a bond with the man in crisis. A bond. That’s the key word in crisis negotiation, and without it, we have no influence, which is a huge problem when you have no other real options. It’s no surprise a veteran negotiator in a major US police department can clearly identify this as his goal and discusses in depth how he works toward it.

The section concludes with a dedicated “lessons learned” section. With every tip, I think of how any of us could apply these suggestions to our own work. Its clear, important and actionable. Another piece I love here is the admission his team was naive to safety practices of high angle rescue. How many of us professionals willingly admit we don’t know everything? That’s refreshing and real for the reader because we’ve ALL been in a situation where we say - well here’s a new one!

This is only one of 10 different incidents presented to the reader in “Held Hostage”. The author includes photos from each of these situations to help readers visualize each story, and they also underscore how real these incidents are. It's an easy book to pick up when you have only a few minutes! For both the interested observer, and the trained professional, you’ll enjoy this book!

Check out the book [HERE]

Check out reviewer Scott Tillema's article on Principles of Negotiation [HERE] and his TEDx Talk [HERE]. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I Was a Crisis Negotiator for 23 Years. Here’s What It’s Like to Talk Down an Armed Hostage Taker.

I found this article posted on the on California Association of Hostage Negotiators (CAHN) Facebook page. I highly recommend checking and liking their page.

Gary Noesner, the former chief of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, on the virtues of self-control and active listening.


The most damaging thing for a hostage negotiator is losing self-control. If you can’t control your own emotions, how can you begin to influence someone else’s? If you get angry at what the person has said or done, if you overreact when they don’t follow through on what they said, if you overreact to a verbal attack, that’s self-defeating and self-destructive.
The first task of a negotiator is to bring down the emotions. We use a diagram in training that looks like a child’s teeter-totter. On one side you have “emotions,” and on the other side you have “rational thinking.” When emotions go up, rational thinking goes down.

...Rather than just say, “We can talk about all this later, put your gun down,” you say, “Tell me what happened. I can see you’re upset.” You’re not agreeing with him, you’re just saying: I understand how you feel.
Read more from TheTrace.org [HERE]. 
Visit the CAHN Facebook page [HERE]. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hero police officer spends 4 hours talking young man out of suicide



IDAHO FALLS — A humble police officer acted as a father figure while persuading an armed young man not to take his own life Friday.

Idaho Falls Police Officer Bart Whiting spent four hours talking with the man, which ultimately resulted in a peaceful outcome.

“It was a very tense situation that could have ended very poorly,” Idaho Falls Police spokeswoman Holly Cook told EastIdahoNews.com.

Read more and watch the video [HERE].