Book Review: Crisis Negotiations: Managing Critical Incidents and Hostage Situations in Law Enforcement and Corrections (2nd ed.)

Published date01 September 2005
Date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
tive is articulate, engaging, and veryaccessible. Rather, it is the absolute futility of incarcerat-
ing individuals for their natural lives and the sense of injustice that the nature of this sentence
provokes that is so demoralizing. Indeed, as Paluch’s father succinctly puts it, life imprison-
ment without parole can be considered little more than “a silent sentence of death” (p. 208).
Alana Barton
Edge Hill
Crisis Negotiations: Managing Critical Incidents and Hostage Situations in Law Enforce-
ment and Corrections (2nd ed.), by Michael J. McMains and WaymanC. Mullins. Cincinnati,
OH: Anderson Publishing Company, 2001.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016805284513
Incidents involving barricaded suspects, hostage takers, or persons threatening suicide are
only a few of the dynamic calls requiring a proficient and effective law enforcement
response. Officers who first arrive at the scene must quickly assess the situation, secure the
location, estimate the threat level, and direct additional responding units appropriately.
Crisis negotiators have the daunting task of establishing contact with the barricaded sus-
pect (or hostage takers, depending on circumstance), eliciting demands, and resolving the
standoff with the goal of preserving life. For such incidents to be effectively resolved, all
responding units must understand clearly the functions of the others. This will allow a coordi-
nated response to be successful.
An effective negotiator must have the knowledge and capability needed to resolve tense
critical incidents. Crisis Negotiations is a book that gives an intense insight into the intricate
subject of negotiations. Authors Michael J. McMains (San Antonio Police Department) and
Wayman C. Mullins (Southwest Texas State University) also takean in-depth look at critical
incident management.
The text is a brilliant informational tool for both beginner and expert negotiators. The
authors thoroughly explain the ideas and concepts of command centers, negotiating teams
and tactical teams, equipment considerations, intelligence gathering, tactical response,
postincident debriefing, mental health assistance, and support personnel. The text is well
structured and separated into practical chapters that provide essential definitions and infor-
mative examples. The book further assists negotiators by illustrating actual case studies of
past critical incidents. The beginning of each chapter provides an outline of learning objec-
tives for that particular discussion. A summary can be found at the end of each chapter, com-
plete with references for further reading and a set of exercises to focus on what the reader has
learned in that particular chapter.
Of the 14 chapters contained in the book, chapter 8 is perhaps one of the most enlighten-
ing. “Team Structure, Roles, and Command” is an educational tool for those interested in
learning the fundamentals of the negotiation process. This chapter examines a definition of
teams, identifies problems during incidents that are related to team issues, and describes the
roles and structures of response teams that will help overcome the problems that have devel-
oped in the team management of crisis incidents.
246 Criminal Justice Review

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