Date of Conferral
Hostage/crisis negotiation has been described as a complex verbal dance between the negotiator and the subject. While one of law enforcement's most effective tools and most significant developments in law enforcement and police psychology over the past several decades, the acceptance of mental health professionals (MHP) on a hostage/crisis negotiation team is ambiguous. This study examined how mental health professionals working with hostage/crisis negotiation teams are perceived, if there is positive small group socialization within teams, whether the outcome of incidents is affected by designation of the MHP as a team member versus a consultant, and whether prior law enforcement experience influences team members' perception of the MHP. A comparative research design was utilized and data were collected from 362 hostage/crisis negotiators using the Hostage/Crisis Negotiation and Mental Health Professional Questionnaire. Independent sample t tests indicated that MHPs designated as team members scored higher on the Small-Group Socialization and Perception scales than those designated as consultants. Results indicated that MHPs with law enforcement experience were perceived more positively than those without. The type of MHP designation showed no significant effect on incident outcome. This study's outcome may produce positive social change in that the results will enhance and promote ideas and cohesion that involves the unity of the MHP and their law enforcement team members in a field that focuses in on preservation of human life in the worst possible conditions, with positive implications for the team, hostages, victims, communities, and even the individual in crisis.