Dr. Andy Young, a professor of psychology at Lubbock Christian University, attended the 2018 Hostage Negotiator Conference and Competition in San Marcos, Texas with several members of the Lubbock Police Department (LPD). While there, he also presented a session and acted as a judge for the competition.
The first two days of the conference, Jan. 8-9, were filled with panels and sessions. The second two days, Jan. 10-11, were comprised of the competition.
During the conference, Young presented on “Establishing Your Kill Line.” When an officer is confronted with someone who has a gun to their head, the officer has to weigh the risk of getting shot and killed against their ability to save a person’s life: their kill line.
Other sessions included incident debriefs, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting, or negotiating with someone with a disorder, such as PTSD or dementia.
This was Young’s fourth year as a judge for the competition. The judges watch the teams during their run of the scenario and judge them based on a predetermined rubric.
Though 28 teams attended the competition, they were divided into two groups. Each day, 14 teams enacted an eight-hour SWAT call-out scenario in the competition venue. The teams are judged by experienced hostage negotiators on their skills: communicating as a team, utilizing the information they receive, etc. On the 15-minute lunch break, the teams receive feedback from the judges on what to improve in the afternoon.
Young admits that after two days of the eight-hour scenarios, he was pretty tired. “One of the officers said that the scenario was so complicated and so long that she’s looking forward to coming back and having just a regular SWAT call-out,” Young laughed. “They want training to be harder than the real thing, and they accomplish that.”
He said that the competition is still fun, though. “It’s fun to just take a trip with the team and be together and do what we do.”
LPD’s team placed ninth out of 28 teams. Each of the top nine teams placed within 15 points of each other, speaking to LPD’s skill in negotiation settings.