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Controlling a crisis.

THE EFFICIENT AND PROFESSIONAL manner in which security forces handle life-threatening, high-risk incidents can mean the difference between life and death. This is particularly true in barricade and hostage situations. In these types of crises the goal of security is to resolve the event in a safe and acceptable manner. Therefore, security managers must familiarize themselves with the appropriate methods of responding to the initial conflict to ensure their security officers are performing this function safely and prudently.

Hostage and barricade situations possess several unique features that are not present in other day-to-day security operations, and managers must prepare themselves for the stress and pressure identified with these events. As the early moments of an incident unfold, the manager must implement the contingency plan designed for such an incident. The plan should outline the responsibilities of each member of the crisis management team and indicate the location of the crisis management center (CMC).

Just as important as taking the proper steps in activating the contingency plan is monitoring the first actions of the responding security officer. These initial actions set the stage for the intervention of specialized teams trained in tactics or negotiations.

For example, the manager must ensure the responding officer approaches the crisis site safely and cautiously, takes a protective position offering him or her maximum observation, and ensures the position prevents the escape of the suspect.

Possibly the most important factor at the initial stage of the crisis is containing the subject in an area and isolating the event from other individuals. Preventing the incident from moving beyond a specific area reduces the possibility of future violence. The next step for the officer is to determine the nature of the situation. The officer must communicate to the security manager the type of incident for example, whether it is a hostage situation or a barricade. Additional information such as the number of people involved, types of weapons involved (if any), and a list of injuries is also needed. As the early moments of the incident progress, the responding officer must establish an inner perimeter. The inner perimeter is an imaginary line that encircles the site of the emergency. It should be developed to contain the crisis. The security manager should work to isolate individuals involved in the event and prevent any unauthorized persons from entering the danger area. While the inner perimeter is being established, the first officer must evacuate people within the perimeter area and anyone outside it who may be injured.

While establishing an inner perimeter, the security officer should identify areas vulnerable to weapons fire. The officer should then relay the information to the manager so he or she can determine safe access routes to the crisis site and send additional responding officers.

If the security force is armed, the manager should order strict firearm discipline and follow up this order with periodic reminders. To ensure each officer has received the order, the manager should call each officer individually to acknowledge the message.

While directing the CMC, the security manager must rely on the activities of the supervisor sent to the scene. The supervisor should take charge of the overall scene when he or she arrives, reading the situation report and debriefing the first officer on the scene. The supervisor needs to evaluate the situation to determine if personnel are deployed properly, determine the degree of danger, ascertain the number and location of security personnel at the scene, ensure the inner perimeter is properly developed, continue to evacuate individuals from the area, and locate witnesses.

If witnesses are found, the supervisor must isolate and interview them as soon as possible. Doing so enables the supervisor to gather additional information for negotiators.

At this point the supervisor must establish a command post. A command post is the field headquarters of the responding units and the contact point for the manager in the CMC. From the command post the on-scene supervisor can ensure security officers are properly positioned, brief additional responding officers, maintain contact with the security manager, and gather additional intelligence.

THE DECISION TO INITIATE COMmunication with the subject is often a difficult one. The manager must determine if negotiations are essential at this point to gain the release of hostages without violence,

Here are a few questions the manager must address before deciding whether to contact the subject:

* How serious is the incident?

* What's the best method of communicating with the subject?

* Who is best qualified to negotiate?

* Have the security personnel at the crisis site been trained in negotiation and determining what type of situation they are exposed to? For example, is the incident psychologically, criminally, religiously, or politically motivated?

* Does the security officer selected want to communicate with the subject? The main concern should be the safety of everyone involved-the hostages, hostage taker, and security personnel.

The decision on whether to talk to the subject may be moot if the subject and the first security officer on the scene have already spontaneously communicated.

The manager must determine what method would be best for negotiating with the subject. The following are five negotiation techniques that can be used:

Face-to-face. Although no studies indicate this method obtains better results than others, hostage negotiators often prefer this method once the process is initiated. Negotiators feel they can use the nonverbal communication cues from the subject to help them negotiate.

However, this method should be avoided by inexperienced security officers. Hostage takers or barricaded individuals have difficulty analyzing their problem in a rational, intellectual manner and, as a result, may cause unnecessary danger to the officer.

Telephone. This is the best method to use when negotiating with a barricaded person. The method offers a means to talk privately and establish rapport. In addition, it is safe and less stressful for the officer. In using the phone, the manager must ensure each party has the other's phone number. Basic as it may sound, the simplest things are often forgotten during initial crisis moments.

Behind cover. If phones are not available, negotiating behind cover offers the negotiator safety while allowing him or her to stay near the scene. The structure the officer uses should not only conceal but also protect.

Bullhorn. There may be times when the manager must authorize the use of a hand-held bullhorn or a speaker system. Communication through a bullhorn or speaker, however, offers no privacy. The security officer may be conscious that what he or she says is being heard by many people; this may interfere in the communication process.

Written notes. Often the subject may refuse to talk and, in some cases, be unable to communicate orally. To get the negotiation process going, written messages may be passed to him or her. Although not often used, this method is successful in some cases.

NEGOTIATION GUIDELINES ASSIST the security manager in overseeing the crisis. They also greatly benefit security personnel required to establish contact with the subject. Although this article cannot cover every aspect of crisis communication, the following ideas-when reinforced with additional training-serve as an excellent basis for security personnel at all levels of the operation:

Identify. The security officer should simply start the negotiation by identifying himself or herself and what security force he or she is with.

Reassure. The officer should reassure the subject that the security force on the scene will not cause any harm. The officer should then ask if the individual is okay and reassure the subject that the officer will help in any way he or she can. The officer should emphasize that by working together the subject and the officer can solve the problem.

The officer should emphasize the importance of keeping the situation calm outside the perimeter and stress that the subject should do the same inside the perimeter.

While the officer is relaying this information, the subject may become verbally aggressive. The officer should allow the person to vent these feelings. If the person weren't upset, he or she probably wouldn't have taken hostages.

Document activities. The officer should keep a log of the subject's primary concerns and his or her main statements. Doing so will assist law enforcement authorities if the incident is turned over to them.

While recording statements and times of contacts with the subject, the officer should avoid any aggressive statements that might excite the subject. Conversation should be directed toward the subject's problems and away from the hostages. Frequent attention to hostages might annoy the subject. This does not mean, however, that in the early part of the crisis communication process the negotiator cannot ask for the names and condition of the people inside.

Remain honest. One of the most important aspects of crisis negotiation is to be as honest as possible. Most hostage and barricade incidents are resolved as a result of honest communication between the subject and the officer. If the subject discovers the officer has lied, the credibility of the entire operation is in jeopardy as well as the lives of the hostages.

Avoid deadlines. The manager should ensure the negotiator or officer on the scene does not set any deadlines. Deadlines place undue stress on authorities to perform some action they may not be prepared to perform. If the subject sets deadlines, the officer should not remind him or her of them and should let them pass unnoticed.

Don't exchange hostages. Managers should not allow the exchange of hostages, particularly if the subject wants the officer as a hostage in exchange for some other person. This puts undue strain on the authorities and may provide the subject with an additional hostage. The overriding reason not to exchange hostages is safety.

The safety and welfare of people and property is a big responsibility for the manager, the operational staff, and the security officers. This obligation is magnified when a situation occurs involving the lives of innocent people. The safe resolution of a high-risk event depends on the manager's competence in directing the activities and the ability of the first responding officer to approach and defuse the situation. About the Author . . . Major John E. Glorioso, Sr., is the chief of services for a security force with an agency of the Department of Defense. He was previously the commander of the hostage recovery team for the Maryland State Police. Glorioso has developed and trained hostage negotiation teams for several police, correctional, and private agencies.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Glorioso, John E., Sr.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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