by Morgan Montalvo
Police crisis negotiators from across the U.S. and abroad are in San Marcos this week for an annual conference that combines classroom instruction with reality-based competition, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Texas State University is hosting the 29th Annual Hostage Negotiation Training and Competition, says Texas State criminal justice professor and event organizer Prof. Wayman Mullins.
“We have teams from Singapore, we have people from Germany, Scotland,” Mullins says. “We bring in negotiating teams, we put on a standardized exercise for them to negotiate, we bring in experts of the field to assess their performance.
“What we’re trying to do is enhance their skill level,” Mullins says.
About 350 experienced negotiators and trainees are taking part in this year’s activities, Mullins says. Among the foreign officers attending the four-day event is Capt. Matthias Proehl, a police negotiator, researcher and presenter from the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg.
Proehl says, just as in the U.S., the majority of standoffs that call for a negotiator involve suicidal persons or someone who has barricaded him- or herself inside a building to avoid arrest or other contact with authorities.
“We only have really a few and rare occasions where we are dealing with a hostage,” says Proehl, “or only one percent, we’re talking about terrorism.”
Mullins says even in the U.S., with its far more liberal gun laws, most situations that require a negotiator are resolved without violence, unlike Hollywood's shootout-and-explosion depictions of standoffs and hostage-taking.
PHOTO: Dennis Smith, center, a sales representative with AgileMesh Corp., discusses his company's line of video surveillance equipment with attendees of this week's 29th Annual Hostage Negotiation Training and Competition conference, hosted by Texas State University in San Marcos. Photo by Morgan Montalvo