Faculty Articles

Captive taking incidents in the context of workplace violence: Descriptive analysis and case examples

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Victims and Offenders



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Workplace violence has been a burgeoning issue of concern for organizations, law enforcement personnel, and mental health professionals. Most research has been devoted to understanding the causes of workplace aggression and developing strategies for effective intervention. Previous examinations of workplace aggression have focused on threats, assaults, and homicide. However, there is little research directed toward the problem of captive-taking in the workplace. The purpose of the present investigation was to: (1) to identify the characteristics of these incidents that may be useful in developing efficacious prevention and intervention strategies, and (2) increase crisis negotiators' level of understanding of these events and facilitate their resolution. Fifteen captive-taking cases were obtained from the Hostage/Barricade Database System (HOBAS) maintained by the Crisis Negotiation Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Further, three categories of variables (situational, subject, victim) and several case scenarios were examined. Results demonstrated that: (1) these events tend to be planned, (2) subjects generally were Caucasian, single, males between the ages of 25 and 40, (3) victims were usually Caucasian females with no significant relationship to the subject, and (4) in most cases, incidents were peacefully resolved with little to no harm to subject or victim. Implications for future research in the area of crisis negotiations in the workplace context are discussed.

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