Texas State hosts seminar for hostage negotiation teams

High-pressure training sessions at Texas State University were held today as part of a seminar for several hostage negotiation teams.

The training seminar held in San Marcos provided a rare look inside the pressure cooker caused by a standoff.

Criminal justice professor Wayman Mullins started the seminar 30 years ago. There are no high-powered weapons, no armored vehicles, just phones, computers and a lot of quick thinking.

"We take SWAT out of this exercise," Mullins said. "It's about negotiations if we get there and have the opportunity to talk to people over 90% of the time they walk without ever having to use SWAT."

Real-world situations are recreated, like when a man recently climbed up a construction crane in Austin and a standoff with a robbery suspect who refused to come out of a car wash.

About 40 different law enforcement agencies were on campus this week. One team is a combined unit from the San Marcos Police Department and the Hays County Sheriff's Office.

The people the negotiators are talking to are located in a lower room. Texas State students work from written hostage scenarios, throwing curveballs and trying to be demanding, difficult and unpredictable.

The teams are judged on how they handle the scenarios and while a top unit is recognized, the main goal is to take the life lessons learned on the next call out.