Kidnapping: Plan ahead

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Kidnapping: Plan ahead

Before a crisis the most important step your company can take to react effectively to a kidnapping is to plan ahead, appoint the right people to a crisis management team, and make certain field and home office staff know how to contact a team member.

When planning

Establish a corporate crisis management team made up of three core people a. the ultimate decision maker, normally the CEO or his designee; b. the coordinator, often the corporate security director, risk manager, or chief of international operations; and c. the general counsel. The team might also include a finance officer (to raise the ransom), a personnel specialist (to oversee the care of the hostage’s family) and a public relations specialist (to handle press inquiries). Since the first hours following a kidnapping are critical to successful resolution, early decisions should be made by key corporate decision makers.

Create a communications infrastructure so field managers know who is on the crisis management team and how to notify them the moment an emergency occurs. Stress that immediate notification of the crisis management team, even before notifying local law enforcement authorities, is necessary to ensure effective handling of the situation consistent with procedures established for these emergency situations.

When a threat occurs

In general, neither the field manager nor the crisis management team should try to thwart the attempt alone, but should swiftly do the following: The field manager should:

1. Contact a crisis management team member (usually the coordinator) immediately upon learning of or suspecting a kidnapping.

2. Give all the known details about the circumstances of the abduction, the medical condition of the hostage and the content of any communications from the kidnappers.

The crisis management team should:

1. Ask the field manager (or other caller) for the specifics about the abduction circumstances, hostage’s medical condition, content of kidnappers’ communications and other useful information.

2. Instruct the field manager (or other senior representative) not to talk to the press and not to report the incident to local law-enforcement authorities until the crisis management team gives the go-ahead. (This assumes local authorities have not already been notified.)

3. Direct the field manager to prepare appropriate staff members to expect written or telephone communications from the kidnappers and to record phone calls if possible. Call recipients should merely listen to the demands and ask the kidnappers to call back. They should not attempt to negotiate.

4. Tell the field manager to stand by for further instructions from the crisis management team. Emphasize no one should attempt to handle this emergency alone.

5. Convene a meeting of the crisis management team.

Prevent a crisis

Learn how to help protect your company from terrorism. Terrorism is a fact of life, and corporate leaders must deal with its risks when transacting business around the world. Well-managed companies can take steps to help protect their investments and employees from kidnapping and other acts of terrorism by having a crisis management strategy in place.

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