Law enforcement trains for hostage crisis situation

SALINE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s a scenario law enforcement agencies have to plan for — a hostage negotiation.

Today, Wichita police, Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Department of Corrections attended a hostage negotiation training in Saline County.

In today’s scenario, a suspect has barricaded himself in a home and has taken a few hostages.

This drill is something officers regularly have to face.

“Our folks are practicing their skills to deescalate that situation and try to work it out peacefully,” said KHP Lt. Bob Ware.

During one phone call, the suspect told the negotiator: “I hate cops. I hate prison guards.”

During a time when trust in law enforcement is sometimes in question, organizers said this type of training is essential to help officers handle potentially volatile situations.

“I think listening is the most powerful thing you can do for somebody. And that’s how we start building trust, that’s how we start building a rapport with people,” Ware said.

In the scenario, negotiators listened to the suspect for nearly five hours, to hear the suspect’s concerns.

Those training today dealt with many different outcomes — from a peaceful resolution, to armed confrontation, to suicide. It ended with a discussion about how to take those lessons back home to their departments.

“Negotiations is a whole new discipline within law enforcement. Our main tool is definitely communication,” said Lexi David, a KHP officer.

The Kansas Association of Hostage Negotiators holds this type of training every year. Law enforcement agencies can register for it and organizers said they hope more agencies start participating in the training.