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History's Lessons: Learning It the First Time

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Negotiations Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: 2001 Pages: 69-72
Michael J. McMains Ph.D.
James L. Greenstone Ed.D.
Date Published
4 pages
This training article discusses the principle that negotiator debriefing is essential after each crisis negotiation that includes a death or injury, in order to create a historical body of knowledge for training in this field.
By looking at the common skills, knowledge, and factors across several incidents, and by looking for the differences between successful incidents and unsuccessful incidents to identify the difference that caused success in one, positive lessons can be learned from past incidents. Several case examples are given for analysis as to the components of success. By use of this assessment method, for example, the FBI was able to successfully resolve incidents at the Oakdale and Atlanta Federal Corrections facilities, in 1987, by confirming the validity of such procedures as: allowing time to pass, negotiating with the identified leader, using tape recorders and reviewing all conversations, using a mental-health consultant, and providing a surrender ritual. It is recommended that a standing policy be adopted by law enforcement negotiators that requires careful assessment of all incidents to help build a team and reinforce lessons to be used the next time out, a history-building way to develop field method.