Training and preparation are big pieces in Sheriff Calvin Boyd’s mission as a lead law enforcement officer in Burnet County. He and Marble Falls Police Chief Mark Whitacre recently collaborated on a program that will benefit residents.
Officers and deputies from both agencies wrapped up an intense 40-hour hostage negotiations training program November 21. Those law enforcement officers are now part of the countywide Crisis Negotiations Team.
“This wasn’t something they just sat in a class and listened to,” Boyd said. “There was a lot of hands-on training, and they went through some pretty serious and intense scenarios.”
BCSO Deputy Mike Sorenson led the training. He has years of crisis intervention experience from his time in the Travis County and Williamson County sheriff’s offices. He helped create and train the BCSO Crisis Intervention Team and works with organizations such as Bluebonnet Trails Community Services to teach deputies how to better interact with people with mental health issues.
Each of the recently trained officers and deputies is now a certified Texas Commission on Law Enforcement hostage negotiator.
The Marble Falls-Burnet County team provides another level of protection and service in the community.
“I know most people first think of a hostage situation when it comes to crisis negotiations, and they’re trained for that, but what I see this used for, at least for us, is a barricaded subject,” Boyd said. “Things like that.”
But, he added, the team can assist in a number of scenarios, even working with suicidal subjects.
“It’s just a win-win when agencies work together,” Boyd said. “And that’s not just for us but the entire county and community.”