Imagine being involved in a life-or-death situation where a woman and her child are being held captive by an armed felon who is threatening to kill his captives or a huge situation where a madman is threatening to kill dozens, if not hundreds of innocent people, and it’s your job to talk him out of it.
Award-winning author, Marta Sprout, obviously goes above and beyond when it comes to research. She is here to tell us about one of her resources, Gary Noesner, who has made a career out of hostage negotiations. Gary was at hundreds of critical incidents and used those experiences to help develop the hostage negotiating techniques used today.
Marta, who is Gary Noesner?
That’s a big question. Gary is a man with a lot of stories. How he came by them is enough to raise the hair on our arms and put the hardiest of us on the edge of our seats. Gary spent 23 years as an FBI hostage negotiator and retired after 30 years within the Bureau as Chief of the FBI’s Crisis Unit and the Critical Incident Response Group. He was the first to hold this title.
Gary has written a book titled STALLING FOR TIME, My Life as an FBI Negotiator. In this book he takes the reader through many intense standoffs and discusses how in the early days of hostage negotiations, law enforcement often overreacted to a violent offender’s threats for understandable reasons—they wanted to save lives by rescuing the victims as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, charging in often escalated the violence and turned out badly for all involved. He says, “That is one reason why the most critical skills of a negotiator are self-control and the ability to help those around you keep their cool.” A fascinating part of his book is understanding how much effort is directed toward calming and coordinating with the officers and agents around you, so everyone remains patient. Another interesting factor is listening to Gary discuss the grueling days at the Waco incident, what was learned there, and watching how the FBI developed their highly sophisticated negotiating techniques over time.
Gary’s work inspired me. I went on to teach at the police academy and gave our instructors copies of his book, which is now used in their de-escalation classes. This led to an amazing opportunity to be embedded with my local Hostage Negotiating Team and our SWAT Unit while they went through training scenarios.
What don’t we know about Noesner?
It’s clear that it takes someone with impressive commitment and bravery to step into such high-stakes situations. It’s interesting that his pivotal moment came at the age of twelve as he watched a popular TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club, as they visited the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. What I enjoy most about Gary Noesner is his remarkable observation skills that are mixed with an extraordinary understanding of human nature. You can’t help but admire a man who is so intensely focused on the welfare of others even if it means putting his life on the line.
What is Gary Noesner Doing Now?
In addition to consulting and speaking to law enforcement groups, Gary has two exciting projects coming up this year. This spring for the 30th anniversary of the Waco incident, NETFLIX will air a major three-part documentary about Waco called “Waco: Ranch Apocalypse.” Gary was deeply involved in the creation of this project and was interviewed periodically during its episodes. The other event is the second season of the Paramount Network’s series. This six-part, 2nd season will be called “Waco: The Aftermath” and will air in the summer of 2023. Knowing Gary, these will be well worth watching.”
What is Gary Noesner Like?
He is many things. Beyond a tremendous storyteller, Gary has a remarkable ability to connect with those who are at their worst. He is also a family man and a great guy. When I told him about my book ISLAND OF BONES, Gary didn’t hesitate. He read the book. Here is what he had to say:
"In Island of Bones, Marta Sprout has written an exciting action-packed suspense thriller. Set in colorful Key West, her plot is filled with twists and turns coming at the reader from all angles. This non-stop thriller transports the reader along on a roller coaster ride with never a dull moment. Weaving in local knowledge of Key West and describing many of the colorful free spirits who reside there serves to add a great deal of authenticity to the story. Kate Bowers, the main character, is a terrific blend of brains, strength of character, and pure guts as she almost single-handedly takes on the evil that has invaded this tranquil setting and makes those responsible suffer as a consequence. She is the type of strong character that we all love to root for to succeed against all odds. Those who enjoy suspenseful stories will be glad they decided to read this spellbinding thriller." –Gary W. Noesner, Chief, FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit (retired)
ISLAND OF BONES available at: amzn.to/3zWBmZ9
Gary Noesner’s book STALLING FOR TIME is available on Amazon. His website is https://garynoesner.com/
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