Inside Central Texas Regional SWAT's top-ranked crisis negotiation team

It takes a minimum of five team members to efficiently handle a critical incident negotiation. There are various roles, but they typically include:

It takes a minimum of five team members to efficiently handle a critical incident negotiation. There are various roles, but they typically include:

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What makes up a negotiation team?
Just three years after its formation, the Central Texas Regional SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team won first place at the 28th annual Texas Association of Hostage Negotiators Competition at Texas State University in January.

Central Texas Regional SWAT, or CTRS, is comprised of members from the Leander, Cedar Park and Georgetown police and fire departments, along with tactical medics from Williamson County EMS.

“The men and women assigned to the Central Texas Regional SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team have worked diligently to establish a very reputable competency, generally associated with more mature, longer standing and more experienced teams,” said Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero. “I am very proud of their first-place achievement as it is a direct testament to their ongoing hard work and dedication as well as the successful collaboration across agencies.”

Wayman Mullins, a Texas State University professor and organizer of the competition, said teams were evaluated by expert negotiators mainly on their communication skills and teamwork.

CTRS negotiators underwent high-risk mock scenarios where they gathered intelligence as well as brainstormed and maintained a timeline to defuse the crisis, one of which lasted approximately 6 and a half hours.

Lt. Derral Partin of the Leander Police Department said members underwent an extensive selection process both mentally and physically to join the team. They continuously train once a month for about six hours over various scenarios and stay up to date with negotiation trends and new legal considerations.

CTRS aims to have a controlled, rapid response in high-risk situations in order to gain control and minimize the risk of death or injury to any person, according to the Georgetown Police Department.

Although a SWAT team responds to any type of critical incident or dangerous circumstance when requested, CTRS also regularly conducts demonstrations for members of the community in citizen police academy classes, youth explorer groups, school law enforcement field days and citizen leadership groups. Overall, the team has responded to about 20 incidents since 2015, including dangerous barricaded situations and search-and-rescues, said Lt. Chanse Thomas with the Cedar Park Police Department.

“This team has played an integral role in bringing [Cedar Park, Georgetown and Leander] together,” Thomas said. “The communities have been very supportive.”

Additional reporting by Carlie Porterfield
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