Hostages held for simulation

By Cheryl Tranchitella
April 25, 2002

Margaret Beauchesne, a professional hostage negotiator, demonstrated a true procedure in a hostage situation on Wednesday, Nov. 24, to students in Dr. James Hedtke’s class.

“After seeing movies, people think it is just one person getting the hostage out of the situation. That is a huge misconception. In reality it is an entire hostage negotiation team, not just one person,” Hedtke, chair of history and political science, said.

The hostage negotiation seminar took place in the Academic Affairs conference room on the second floor of Grace Hall and in Dr. Hedtke’s office in the Mansion. The hostages were held in Dr. Hedtke’s office and the rest of the class was in the conference room trying to get them out of danger. Beauchesne assisted the negotiators in getting their hostages to safety. She is a specialist in this field. “She has been at the FBI school and has seen the new ways to deal with terrorism since the 9-11 tragedy,” Hedtke said.

The team consisted of 19 individuals, in this case, students, four of which were taken by one person. The team leader keeps in touch with all of the people on the team and keeps the commander “up to date on the negotiations.” The alternate team leader is responsible for everyone once the team leader has gone to the command center. The primary negotiator, the one everyone sees in the movies, will be interacting with the hostage taker. This person is the information gatherer from the direct source. The secondary negotiator gets all the team’s input and passes the news on to the primary negotiator if he or she feels that person has missed something. There are seven boards that are responsible for “extracting from the negotiations. What is pertinent tops your board.”

The Boards consist of the Intelligence Board, the Dead-lines Board, the Chronology Board, the Demands Board, the Hostages Board and the Con-cessions Board. The commander interacts with his teams, as well as the swat team, the state police and any other law enforcement that is need in the situation. This person decides how to handle the situation. The person in charge of message sheets writes the hostage taker’s commands to the commander, filling him in as if he were there to bring him up to speed. The runner is the person who hand delivers the message sheets. At the same time, he or she needs to be educated on the whole situation to be able to answer any questions that are asked.

There are seven different types of hostage situations. They are: the “psycho” incident, the “simulation” incident, “the grievance airing” incident, “the escape plan,” the “riot related” incident, the “terrorist” incident and the “vengeance seeking” incident.

When in a situation like this, violence is known to take place in the beginning and at the end to anyone being held against their will. 64% of incidents are able to be taken care of in four hours or less. 91% of incidents are able to be worked out in nine hours or less.

This seminar was a opportunity for students to see how it actually is in a situation and how to deal with a situation with all the different aspects. Ever since 9-11 people have been somewhat living in fear of terrorism. This gave some students to see it at a very low level, experience it and learn how to deal with it.

Cheryl Tranchitella

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