Negotiator magazine dot com title

THE NEGOTIATOR MAGAZINE: Dedicated to being the finest resource on negotiation.
Find us on Facebook

Book Review

By Russ Moore, Sergeant – Crisis Negotiator

Hostage/Crisis Negotiations: Lessons Learned from the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad

By Thomas Strentz, Ph.D.
181pp. Springfield, Illinois: Charles Thomas Publications, 2013
Paperback (USA) $32.95

Download PDF Download PDF

TACT Software Ad

Police Crisis Negotiators are increasingly tasked with engaging in verbal warfare with a variety of armed adversaries-armed with guns/knives or defending themselves from the demons inside their minds. Whether facing a subject armed with a weapon or a broken mind, Negotiators must attack the problem from a position of power. Those are the tools that Thomas Strentz’ latest book, Hostage/Crisis Negotiations: Lessons Learned from the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad, provides the reader.

Using psychological lessons interspersed with real life negotiation strategy, Dr. Strentz has identified the majority of hostage takers who fall within three categories. The Bad identifies those persons who are engaged in criminal activity, and because of their criminal behavior, come into contact with law enforcement. These individuals often have Anti-Social Personalities (ASP). Dr. Strentz outlines very clearly the traits of ASP’s and how to successfully negotiate with them.

The Mad are the people with whom law enforcement has more and more contact. They are the mentally ill. With all the budget cuts to mental health services, many subjects with serious mental health diagnoses are left untreated and coming to the attention of law enforcement. Through the use of case studies, Dr. Strentz illustrates the various mental illnesses and defines them in terms which are easy for the layman to understand.

The Sad deals with suicidal subjects, an area of increasing law enforcement liability. The book provides insights into the suicidal mind, as well as never losing focus on how dangerous these incidents are for the first responders. Dr. Strentz is quick to remind the reader, “A suicide is a homicide looking for a victim.”

“Lessons Learned from the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad is a great reference book to learn about the history of crisis negotiations. Many landmark court cases are detailed throughout the book and the bibliography lists all of the best material on the subject. Several historical cases are highlighted to give real world lessons and the decisions made that impacted the incident. Each case finishes with a Lesson Learned section to emphasize the material.

For the police negotiator, a working knowledge of psychology is essential to developing tactics for intervention. The greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Reading about what others have done in a particular situation- both good and bad- is valuable to any crisis negotiator to avoid placing themselves in potential litigious, dangerous and unnecessary situations. Santayana said, “Those who do not study the past are destined to repeat it.” “Lessons Learned from the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad” is one book that can assist in preventing that from happening.

Sergeant Russ Moore Photo
Russ Moore has been with the San Diego Sheriff Department for over 33 years. He currently holds the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to Investigations. During his career, Russ has been assigned to Detentions, Patrol, K-9, SWAT, Scuba Diving, and Investigations. He has been assigned to The Crisis Negotiation Team for 22 years and has been involved in over 250 incidents. He is currently the Southern Director of the California Association of Hostage Negotiators. Russ holds a MS in Forensic Science and is a POST Master Instructor (Thesis project: Responding to Suicides in Progress). Russ can be contacted at [email protected]

As a service to our readers, you may order this book by clicking on the appropriate icon below:


Copyright © 2013 Russ Moore
The Negotiator Magazine  June-July 2013 Copyright © 2013 The Negotiator Magazine