CSD forms first hostage negotiation team

CSD forms first hostage negotiation team

Western methods will have Thai twist

The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has formed the country's first hostage negotiation team, comprising 20 male and female police officers.

The negotiation team was formed late last month with team members undergoing a five-day workshop between May 20-24, to familiarise them with the latest hostage negotiation techniques.

The workshop called, "Talk to Me: The CSD Hostage Negotiation Team", was held at the department's head office on Phahon Yothin Road.

The training was believed to be the first of its kind conducted in this country, according to CSD commissioner, Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, who set up the team.

The training involved using techniques developed by police forces in both Europe and the US, but with an added Thai twist to make them more compatible with local culture and conditions.

Re-enactments of real situations that occurred here were employed as exercises for improving participants' negotiation skills, the CSD commissioner said.

Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop said CSD Hostage Negotiation Team is first unit of its kind in the Royal Thai Police.

Despite these skills having been honed into a science and police in many countries -- in Western countries especially -- having undergone training, negotiating skills are a relatively new concept for Thai police.

"In a real crisis situation such as in hostage taking, every second counts, and can often involve having to make life-or-death decisions," Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop said.

That is the principal reason why the CSD has formed such a unit of professional negotiators that will meets international standards in crisis negotiations, he said.

Despite being portrayed as exciting in Hollywood movies, the reality of the job can involve extreme stress.

"Unlike scenes in movies, crisis negotiations in real life can be extremely tense, as it can take at least 10 hours to bring about an outcome that might not always be happy," Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop said.

If things work out disastrously, negotiators themselves are at risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]," said the commissioner, who also attended the workshop.

The core principles of crisis negotiation include active listening, behavioural decision making and theories of motivation, which were things that had never been employed in real crisis negotiations in Thailand before, according to Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop.

Before this team was formed, whenever a crisis occurred and negotiations were required, the usual practice had been that the highest-ranking police officer at the scene would lead negotiations, he said.

"Of course, that wasn't the best option," he said.

A good team with specialised skills is required to try and make sure that lives are saved and the end results are successful, he said.

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