By Tamas Mondovics
Members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Crisis Negotiation Team enjoyed the spotlight after winning the 2017 Bay Area Negotiator’s Challenge.
The recognition is appropriate as negotiators are often in the background attempting to communicate with a violent or suicidal subject during a standoff and work in conjunction with the HCSO SWAT Team to save lives.
The two day training event, saw nearly 100 negotiators from around the southeast representing numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The challenge took place in early August led by the Bay Area Negotiator Group (B.A.N.G.) in conjunction with the Florida Association of Hostage Negotiators, and HCSO, and held at the University of Tampa.
HCSO Det. Danny Johnson, a 15-year veteran negotiator who takes the lead of the agency’s 12-member team, emphasized that instructors from across the U.S., presented case studies and advanced training topics to assist teams with best practices when dealing with suicidal subjects and hostage takers.
On the second day negotiations teams participated in a six to eight hour practical exercise similar to a real life incident involving a hostage taking. Johnson said that each team was required to work through this incident in an attempt to come to a peaceful resolution.
“This exercise requires each member of the negotiations team to meet specific training objectives,” he said adding that the team’s success gives testimony to all their efforts, commitment and hard work with one goal in mind; to save lives.
The training was monitored by two judges who were selected based on their experience in the negotiations community, some of them the Tampa Bay Area.
Based on the scoring, the top three teams were announced including the HCSO as the first place winner followed by the Pinellas Park Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, respectively.
HCSO’s Crisis Negotiation Team is comprised of twelve men and women with a diverse background and experience level who have been recognized in the past by their peers and other professional organizations for their efforts in the field of negotiations.
“The team motto ‘Bringing Calm to Chaos’ is the primary goal of the team in an effort to bring a peaceful resolution to an incident that has escalated with violence,” Johnson said. For information, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.