OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nine members of Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) took fifth place in a recent competition pitting law enforcement and corrections teams against each other in a hostage scenario to test their skills.
“It’s one of those things that we want to prepare and be ready for, but we hope we never need it,” said Amandia Callen, an ODOC Administrative Review Specialist and the agency’s team captain.
ODOC was one of 28 teams to compete in the training, held Jan. 8-11 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
Callen’s group faced off against teams from the California Department of Corrections, San Antonio Federal Bureau of Investigations, Austin Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Denton County Sheriff’s Office, Lubbock Police Department, Sheriff’s Offices from Colorado and Washington, and a team from Singapore.
The team’s scenario involved a drug cartel that had broken two inmates out of prison before taking women and children hostage at a nearby orphanage.
ODOC’s staff talked with hostage takers, and worked out a plan to resolve the situation successfully without violence or injury.
The competition’s judges commended the team members for their cooperation, preparedness, professionalism, and ability to brainstorm.
“It takes a rare individual to respond correctly in a life-or-death crisis situation,” said ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh.
“Congratulations to these talented members of our agency family. If we ever have to call on their training, the safety of the public, our staff and inmates will be in capable hands.”
ODOC was the only corrections team to place in the competition. Its staff also attended panels on active shooters with a focus on recent mass shootings in Las Vegas, Dallas, and Orlando, Florida.
Other events covered negotiations with kidnappers demanding ransoms, as well as individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Callen said the training is helpful for staff from a variety of backgrounds. Indeed, ODOC’s 26 CNT members come from a wide range of areas within the agency and its 24 facilities.