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All agreements required that the inmates give-up something in order to receive something. Therefore, a handcuff key was exchanged for bullets; food was traded for 2 shanks and a can of Mace; Tylenol was bartered for 2 pepper spray canisters. This same basic strategy led to the release of the male hostage on the seventh day of the crisis and release of the second hostage and the surrender of the inmates on the last day.
JB: Is everything pretty well scripted for you in the sense that you have a game plan as you go along? Or are you reacting? Are you doing both?
KR: There are certain things that the tactical team wants you to find out. For instance, about weapons, locations, where everybody is positioned, whether they’re secure, whether they’re vulnerable. They want to know their health and well-being.
JB: How did you become a primary negotiator?
KR: The very first negotiator was a male. There was a confrontation with them and that’s when I was able to step in.
The reason I stepped in was because I had had contact with the family and the family thought that he would relate really well to me and he did. And we were successful, so then, after my negotiation, they decided to stay with a female for a while. It was successful at first. Later, the men became more effective
JB: When you stepped up to do this, they had gathered some information by now, were you prepped in some way about his personality?
FV: I had been there the whole time. In the room, participating in this, gathering intelligence, I had dealt a lot with the family over the phone, so I had gained a lot of foundation information about behavior by interviewing the family.
JB: They were cooperative?
KR: Yes, they were.
You’re kind of hesitant to bring family members into the negotiations. It is risky. You need to be careful that they don’t just want to talk to them and get it over with. You have to get a good feel for family members.
JB: You knew these people as well as you could in the circumstances, you had a profile at this point in time, but you still took a gamble.
KR: They were helpful. By this time the FBI was involved, and FBI agents picked them up from the airport, put them up in a hotel, and were talking to them in detail. It was a risk, but it paid off.
JB: They were pretty calm.
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Copyright © 2004, John D. Baker
Copyright © 2004, The Negotiator Magazine