Hostage negotiation refers to the attempted agreements that law enforcement officials make with a kidnapper or hijacker. In every case, a hostage negotiation is a tricky task, since it involves an innocent person, weapons, and often armed intervention. Specially trained hostage negotiators are usually responsible for bringing a hostage to safety.
Every hostage situation differs, but most of the time the main goals of a hijacker or kidnapper remain the same. The goal of holding an innocent person captive is to obtain something -- this could be money, objects, or other items. Essentially, a hostage is a type of bargaining tool that is used to gain whatever it is that a hijacker wishes to acquire.
There are four stages that a hostage negotiator will go through during a hostage negotiation. The first stage is known as the initial stage, and includes the actual capturing of a hostage. The second stage is the negotiation stage, which can last for days or hours. Frequently, this stage does not end until a captor has has a positive response to demands made.
The termination stage is the third stage of a hostage negotiation, and this stage can end in many different ways. If a hostage negotiator is able to pacify a captor, then a hostage may be let go without harm. Sometimes, law enforcement officials must kill or arrest a captor if he is not willing to negotiate. Rarely, a captor may have all of his demands met, yet he still manages to escape.
Lastly, the post-negotiation stage occurs. This is a long-term stage, which may involve the changing of government, business, or other entity involved in a hostage situation. All law officials involved in a hostage negotiation have important duties while negotiations are taking place. The two most important people during any hostage situation are the commander and the negotiator.
Commanders have complete and total control over any hostage situation. This command includes control of all law enforcement staff, and any other officials that might be at the scene of a hostage negotiation. The negotiator is the person who actually communicates with a captor. The commander and the negotiator cannot be the same person, since this would be detrimental were one or the other injured during negotiations.
Both the commander and the negotiator must work together in order to resolve a hostage situation. The main goal of any hostage negotiation is to free hostages without harm, though this does not always happen. More often than not, hostages are injured by a captor or by police bullets that go astray.