It is relatively uncommon for a mental health professional (MHP) to become a member of a police department, sheriff's office, or state police department's hostage (crisis) negotiating team (HNT), even though there is evidence for the inclusion of an MHP leading to more peaceful callout resolution in the case of a hostage taking and a reduction in the number of callouts that end with tactical action being taken (see Butler et al, 1993 for more). For a minority of departments the inclusion of a MHP has been a common practice for many years. But what are the duties of a MHP on an HNT? Before I address this question I would like to advocate for a change in terms. I submit that instead of MHP our profession should use the term Psychological Consultant because MHP is a very broad term and may not clearly denote the duties performed by a MHP as part of an HNT on a SWAT callout.
So what do Psychological Consultants do when part of an HNT? I can speak from my own experience these last 17 years, and can also reference what I have learned from other HNT Psychological Consultants across the US and Canada. Common duties include:
1) Assisting the HNT by listening in on negotiations and suggesting methods and phrases for effective communication.
2) Listening in on negotiations and identifying psychiatric and other conditions that may be influencing negotiations, and then suggesting strategies for communicating.
3) Monitoring the team for stress or other factors that may influence ongoing negotiations.
4) Assisting with communication among the officers responding to an incident.
5) Assisting with the interview and debriefing of witnesses and those involved in an incident.
6) Assisting with suicide and violence risk assessment and prediction.
7) Assisting the HNT via ongoing training leadership and participation.
8) Assisting with new HNT member selection.
There are other duties I, and other Psychological Consultants do on-scene, but this list serves as a starting place and description of the most common duties.
I thoroughly enjoy my work as a Psychological Consultant on a number of HNT's. One reason for this, among many, is because an HNT sometimes has a chance to influence and change a situation instead of having to react to it. The peaceful resolution of a tense and seemingly impossible and deadly situation is a very gratifying experience. Kudos to all the Psychological Consultants giving of themselves to do this great work!
By: Elizabeth Lane
Posted: Feb 20, 2017 06:39 PM CST
Updated: Feb 20, 2017 06:39 PM CST
LUBBOCK TX - What Lubbock Police were treating as a potential hostage situation ended peacefully Sunday, partially in thanks to an experienced team of negotiators.
Officer Coby McBroom was just one of 15 negotiators on the case, saying in high-pressure situations, it takes a team to get the job done. McBroom said they train often and are more than prepared for any situation they might face.
"We, as negotiators, have to have that empathy and the ability to invest ourselves in that person and get to understand them and know them, and figure what is going on in their life, and why they're feeling the way they're feeling."
The Officer said each person on their team is competent in all areas of negotiation, and ready to go when they're called upon. Once the on-call Sergeant assigns responsibilities, the team jumps into action.
"They'll divide up who's going to be the primary negotiator, who's going to be the back-up, who's going to be intelligence, who's going to start gathering the intelligence, who's going to set up the command vehicle...so that we can start our negotiation process."
The key to a successful outcome is being prepared for anything.
"They just lay it all out and we roll right through it, and it doesn't really matter if it's a hostage situation, if it's a barricaded subject, if it's a suicidal subject, the steps are the same," McBroom said, "If you keep the steps the same, you work through your processes the same, everything runs a lot smoother, and it makes a more competent and more efficient team."
And another major key: finding a connection with the person on the other end.
"When someone's in crisis and they're having an issue, you've got to build that rapport...and if you don't [build that rapport] you're not going to get anything accomplished, at least nothing positive," McBroom said.
For the Officer, being a negotiator is more than just a job. He said he wants to get people the help they need.
"The risk involved with being a negotiator is no different than the risk involved with being a cop, and when we all chose to put the badge on, we understand the inherent, the risks involved in our job. You do the job because you love the job, regardless of the risk."
Published Monday, February 20th 2017, 9:50 pm EST
Updated Tuesday, February 21st 2017, 11:22 am EST
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
A SWAT team was called to a residence in the 2800 block of 35th Street Monday night, where a shooting suspect barricaded himself in a home.
Negotiators were able to establish communication with the suspect and the situation was resolved peacefully around 9:15 p.m.
Police received word of a shooting at the residence around 7:45 p.m. after a victim with a gunshot wound reported the incident and gave a detailed description of the suspect.
Police went to the residence and a male matching the description of the suspect answered the door and saw police. He then ran back inside and barricaded himself in the home. SWAT was called to the scene after a shot was fired from inside the residence.
The gunshot victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. He was able to walk to a relative's house and was then taken to the hospital by private vehicle.
The suspect, 37-year-old Lanny Sanders, is now facing charges of aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, and discharge of a firearm in a municipality. He is being held in the Lubbock County Detention Center where a bond has not been set yet.
Police say the car parked in front of the home was also listed as stolen.
Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved.
By LUCINDA HOLT
In 2000, the Lubbock Police Department developed its Victim Services Crisis Team with Dr. Andy Young providing assistance with his background in counseling.
Tackling a different type of task a year later, Young was faced with one of the most difficult challenges in his career when had to assist in a SWAT team call out in which an officer was shot and killed in a friendly fire situation.
“And so it would be early on,” Young said, “and the officers didn’t know me, and so to have something so tragic and difficult happen — that was a very trying time for everybody — and I learned a lot and had to do a lot on the fly.”
Young said he often reflects on this story during conferences, and it is one of many in a 13-chapter book he wrote titled, “Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on the Front Line.”
The idea of compiling his stories came from a conference after Young was approached by a fellow speaker who suggested he write a book.
Taking the advice, Young began putting the idea into motion as he worked from stories he had already composed.
If a call weighed heavily on Young, he said he would write it down for the therapeutic component, but after he got serious, the process took more than a year.
With the help of family and friends, editors and his publishing company, Young said his book was finally able to come to fruition and he has received positive feedback ever since.
“I started with the last chapter,” he read a reader’s email aloud. “Powerful and succinct work, but even more importantly, I cried.”
The tales are Young’s own from his experience on the team.
With stories involving several themes, Young details the work and stress of the team as they come in and help when emotions are high.
According to the LPD website, the volunteer team assists victims by providing a variety of on-scene services including counseling.
“At the request of a police officer,” the team’s statement reads, “the Crisis Team volunteers will respond to victims, families, and friends involved in crisis situations such as assaults, suicides or threats of suicide, family violence/domestic disturbances, child abuse/neglect, homicide, suicide, traffic accidents, etc.”
Lubbock police Lt. Mike Steen said the team comes in handy as they step in and fill the void after police leave a scene.
In a time of crisis, he said, people are often left with questions and the team will assist with further information in order to help families reach the next step in healing.
Steen said the book helps show how Dr. Young and the team helps put families’ lives back together, while showing the behind-the-scene side of policing that is not shown on tv.
One of those scenes discussed in the book, are death notifications.
Young said his book details the emotions involved for both victims and police, as families learn of the passing of their loved one.
Sometimes knocking on a stranger’s door in the middle of the night, people receive the news from officers.
Stories like this can be found through the pages, as Young gives about four to five tales per chapter.
Originally published on October 27, 2015, Young has been speaking at conferences and promoting his book in an effort to give people an inside look at the perils and passion that comes with a career in law enforcement.
As the team of 35 work in assisting those faced with crisis, he said its easy for the public to judge policing based on half-truths.
“I think our society is making a mistake making these judgments just based on that and getting emotional about things based on partial information or based on what they believed to be true.”
While he calls the book’s timing coincidental in relation to societal tensions involving law enforcement, he said it can be beneficial for the kinds of conversations people are having these days.
Echoing Young, Steen said the book will help show readers how police are human, and like everyone else, they have families.
Even though they feel the emotional affects of their duties, someone has to do the work.
Young said he hopes the honest-telling of these stories will help provide some insight to the hardships law enforcement faces on a daily basis.
“It’s hard to summarize 16 years in a book,” Young said, “but there’s a start.”
As a crisis counselor and hostage negotiator with my local police department and sheriff’s office I have seen many traumatic events and varied reactions to those events. From deceased infants and children, to hostage takings that ended in the death of the hostage and perpetrator, to traffic fatalities, to sexual assaults . . . though I have responded to many of each of these I continue to see varied reactions.
Most people are familiar with the information about reacting to threatening or traumatic events by either fighting or fleeing. Many people are confused when they react to a traumatic event like a death by wanting to run away or fight with someone, but it happens frequently. Then there are the less commonly discussed reactions of posturing or submitting. To posture means to look threatening and intimidating in an effort to communicate “you do not want to fight me,” much like the way my cat acts when another cat enters his territory. Similarly, people will paint their faces and wear excessively large helmets as they go to war, or lash out in anger when threatened and hurt.
I remember responding to the family room of my local ER at the request of law enforcement. An infant died that night and the family was very distraught. I dawned my khaki cargo pants, navy blue shirt with the city emblem on it (it looks similar to a police badge), a police department hat to cover my bedhead, and my police radio (complete with mic cord on my shoulder and earbud in my ear). I met officers in the hall and they briefed me on the situation, including the fact that the father had a long and rough history with law enforcement. I then entered the room and saw a large group gathered to console the parents. I was then greeted by the father who jumped out of his chair, came at me with his finger pointed and said he did not want the f’in police here. As I was met with his grief and his anger my natural and instinctual inclination was to submit to his posturing. I automatically put my hands behind me and started walking backwards. I noticed afterwards that I slumped a little and put my head down too (I am six feet, two inches tall and apparently I look intimidating even on happy days).
Another example of a fight-like reaction that will forever remain with me was the night I was called by a police sergeant to assist with a death notification. Earlier that night a teenage girl took her parent’s car and subsequently picked up two of her friends to go joy riding. Unfortunately, she ran a stop sign and was T-boned and her friend died on scene. As the sergeant and I walked to the front door of the deceased friend’s home at 3 am to make notification, we both knew this was going to be awful. After knocking we were met by the girl’s father and invited in. The sergeant asked if the deceased girl lived there and the father acknowledged this and said she is in her room sleeping. My stomach dropped as the sergeant informed him about the accident and fatality that occurred tonight. I interjected and asked, are you sure your daughter is in her room sleeping? The father went around the corner and I could hear him try to open a locked bedroom door. Then came the sound of him forcing the door open and finding an empty room and open window. His sound of grief was devastating. The rest of the family was now awake and he informed them of what happened. The family then joined him in his grief. I watched as this father looked and pointed up at the ceiling and said, F-you God repeatedly . . . his anger made perfect sense to me and was pointed at the correct source.
It is imperative that mental health professionals and law enforcement understand the impact of and reactions to deadly threats, trauma, and grief. These reactions are less disorienting when considered from the framework of fight, flight, posture or submit. For me it has been most helpful to remember that these root responses, and all the manifestations of them, are not to be taken personally, even when pointed at me or my God. Lashing out, running off and isolating, yelling and screaming . . . all make more sense to me now. In my experience, submitting is the least common reaction. For someone to experience a traumatic death or be the victim of a horrible experience like a sexual assault, and be able to accept that this happened to them, is an amazing thing to watch as a crisis counselor or therapist. This is not a traditional definition of submission, and acceptance of these situations is not the norm, but in my mind it is fitting to think of acceptance as submitting to the reality of the situation at hand because the person is able to accept their new reality, and this is the first step in being able to find ways to cope with it, and even grow from it and beyond.
I spoke with the victim of a sexual assault a number of years ago, and we met for weeks as she struggled to accept/submit to her circumstances. She knew she needed to, but acceptance was difficult for her. I remember vividly the day she accepted what happened and said to me, “I was raped.” Her tone, body language and affect were all congruent with someone who had just accepted/submitted to what had happened. And soon after this came resolve, fortitude, and peace regarding what had happened to her. She saw things differently and without any self-blame or guilt. This was something that happened to her, and she could now go about the business of healing and living her life. It was amazing to watch a strength come over her as she came to terms with what happened.
Traumatic events are often confusing, as is our reactions to them. Having a clear understanding of the road through and out of traumatic events provides people with peace, understanding, and gets them on their way to healing and even growth in the wake of these events.
Posted: September 17, 2016 - 9:54pm | Updated: September 18, 2016 - 12:54am
By LUCINDA HOLT, A-J MEDIA
Behind the respirators and biohazard suits are the men and women who provide comfort, cleanliness and peace of mind to those dealing with the loss of a loved one.
For Dr. Andy Young, coordinator for the Lubbock Police Department’s Victim Service Crisis Team, he’s seen firsthand that these cleanup services often are critical in the aftermath of an at-home death.
In responding to victims of crisis situations, Young said he assists people coping with the traumatic loss of a loved one.
In homes still tainted with blood, bodily fluids, odors and other painful reminders of a loved one’s death, it requires more than counseling, and many face the decision of how to move forward.
“I think it’s difficult for the people in the midst of that situation to have a really good sense of what the right decision is,” said Young, who is also a professor of behavioral sciences and psychology at Lubbock Christian University.
Wanting to experience what victims walk in on after first responders leave the scene, he described an incident where a person had passed away in a home.
Recalling the site where the person died on a bed, he said he noticed a wave of relief wash over the family member’s face when he offered to dispose of the sheets and mattress.
Young said incidents like this are emotional and shocking for people to initially process, and biohazard cleanup is the furthest thing from their mind.
But as Lubbock’s population climbs, crew members for biohazard cleanup companies who described their jobs to A-J Media over the summer said there’s a growing need for the service.
“Any situation in which you know that it’s something you can’t handle and it’s a health risk, we can take care of it,” said Stephanie Henderson with Carpet Tech.
Two biohazard cleaning companies, nationally and locally, shared information on the services they provide.
Bio-Tech biohazard technician Matt Brooker stood next to a specialized vehicle filled with the supplies he needs to carry out each task, big or small.
Professional cleaning and restoration company Carpet Tech of Lubbock has offered Bio-Tech, a biohazard restorative service, for about six years, covering Lubbock and working out to a 50-mile radius on the South Plains.
As the company’s sole biohazard technician, Brooker had completed nine jobs since January when he spoke to A-J Media this summer. Most of their jobs, he said, involve suicide and unattended deaths. In 2015, he completed 30, with about 10 percent being at crime scenes.
“You run into a whole spectrum of emotions when you get there,” Brooker said about responding to scenes.
While the company is equipped for any task, prices vary per job, with the most expensive at $10,000. Brooker said they rarely see homicide-related scenes. Lubbock saw an average of just under a dozen homicides per year from 2010 to 2015, according to A-J Media archives.
Henderson, who has been with Carpet Tech for nine years, said the demand for service has increased as the city continues to grow. In July 2015, Lubbock County’s population reached 299,453, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
A report from the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office shows there were 50 suicides in 2015. Since January 2016, documents released in the middle of the year show there have been more than 15.
With a growing need for the specialized service, Henderson said, Carpet Tech is looking at adding more biohazard technicians as a backup for Brooker.
Each technician undergoes a blood pathogen certification and training at a specialty school.
Brooker attended a weeklong school in Indianapolis for classroom and hands-on training, where he followed protocol in a mock bedroom crime scene.
To simulate bodily fluids, he said, the instructors had technicians practice with cow blood. Brooker said starting out in the carpet and water restoration industry is beneficial when undergoing training for these special services.
He said the biohazard recovery industry is self-monitoring to ensure it remains ethical. Continuous training, he said, is a necessity with development of technology, tools and concepts.
For nationally based Aftermath, the certifications and training are similar, except the company has its own school for its technicians.
Bryan Reifsteck, senior director of operations, worked as a field technician for 10 years.
Headquartered in Illinois, the company’s Fort Worth dispatch center helps service the area from Amarillo to Midland.
Like Bio-Tech, Reifsteck said the majority of Aftermath’s calls are unattended deaths and suicides, and Texas, as the second largest by population in the country, is one of the company’s busiest states.
Three-person crews are dispatched to each scene, and the company has about 45 to 50 crews throughout the nation, with the Lubbock area visited several times a month on average.
“It’s very demanding,” Reifsteck said. “It’s not like general cleaning contractors.”
He said a crew remains on standby 24 hours a day with five hours being the lengthiest time of arrival.
Aftermath and Bio-Tech, do not have automated phone systems — callers will always have the opportunity to speak with someone about their situation.
Like Aftermath, Bio-Tech technician Brooker is also on 24-hour standby.
Manager Henderson said Brooker enjoys helping people in their time of need.
“This is very sensitive work,” Henderson said, “and it is work that you have to be able to handle particular situations very well. And Matt (Brooker), in particular, is very good at that.”
The company offers assessments at no extra cost, while Aftermath provides no-obligation assessments.
Tina Bao, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for Aftermath, said the sensitivity of each task is why their company places a great emphasis on customer privacy.
Brooker also addressed the issue of privacy as he said he has placed garbage bags over the windows to block out potential spectators.
In the midst of a traumatic situation, Dr. Young said, it may be difficult for people to decide to enlist the help of a cleaning crew.
He lets people know about area services, and lets them know there may be a fee. Some people may be able to handle the cleaning themselves, and others may break down halfway through, he said.
What makes the situation difficult, he said, is that many people want to remember their loved ones as they were.
Booker said a person who knows the involved family usually makes the call because it can be emotional on family members.
The pros suit up for multiple reasons.
Wearing a respirator, Brooker demonstrated the suit that helps keep him safe while maintaining the integrity of the scene. He said although bodies are never at the scene by the time his crews get there, decomposition odor attaches to other surfaces very quickly.
Gloves are taped around the wrists for safety and cleanliness, and no suit is used twice. Both companies switch out suits frequently to help protect the technicians and the scene.
Blood creates a dangerous situation, as it may carry a risk for disease.
Both service providers warned of the dangers of spot cleaning. If blood or bodily fluids are on a carpeted surface, Reifsteck said more than likely there is pooling underneath the surface.
Additional blood spatter, he said, may also be an issue if a suicide was carried out by a shotgun.
A thorough cleaning is required, he said, in order to eliminate all odors and hazardous material.
Brooker said blood can also seep into the concrete, so carpet removal is a necessity to remove the risk of disease transmission.
If a mattress is contaminated, the soiled spot is cut out, and all removed waste is then collected by a medical waste company.
He said under state and federal regulations, all biohazardous material has to be dealt with in a specific way, and specialized containers similar to the ones found in hospitals are used.
Aftermath’s Bao said the company carries its own line of custom disinfectants to assure optimal cleanliness, and a HEPA air filtration machine is brought out to the site.
Do you have to call biohazard cleanup after a traumatic event? Brooker said the answer is no, but highly recommended.
If the government were to place biohazard regulations on individuals, he said, people would be unable to blow their nose and dispose of the tissue. Regulations do come into effect, he said, when a technician takes on the task.
Aftermath offers a 28-point checklist to help families choose the right service for them. The website list details qualifications they say technicians should have before taking on the task.
For Bio-Tech, Henderson said customers are treated with the utmost care and dignity in order to help them in their time of need.
“Care and compassion comes first,” said Henderson. “Second, we’re gonna get you taken care of and get your house the way it needs to be so that you can continue on your journey that you’re dealing with right now.”
Posted: Jul 12, 2016 10:24 PM EDT
LUBBOCK, Texas - Police officers wake up each morning not knowing what they will face.
"You're going to see a lot of bad things, things you can't un-see, things you're going to think about at night and it will reappear in dreams. You've got to have somebody and outlet that you can talk to about those things and not everybody understands what the officers are going through and how to deal with those issues," Lubbock Police Sgt. Lowell Owens.
The Lubbock Police Department's Critical Incidents Management Team has been around for 16 years.
Andy Young, the coordinator of the Critical Incidents Management Team at LPD, went through the training in 2000. "I think we had a number of officers go through the training before July 13, 2001, when we had one officer killed in the line of duty," he said.
Owens said he was "actually on the department during those times and it was a very difficult time. We had two officers, several years ago, that were killed within a week a part of each other and during those times it was just the beginning stages of the existing crisis team that we have now and I believe that was the time we realized we really needed something in place and available for these guys."
The Crisis Team opens the door for discussion. "It's a camaraderie that you can sit down and visit with people that have been through what you've been through," Owens said.
The team assists anytime they are needed. They are there "for the officers on patrol, for everything from a domestic disturbances to where they need counseling, to accidents with injuries, deceased persons, the team is available to come out and help them at anytime there's an issue or somebody needs someone to talk to," Owens said.
There are currently 40 officers on the Crisis Team, "who are able to assist other officers one on one as the needs arise and then a large scale incident like what happened in Dallas happens we have a lot of people that we can call on from other agencies to come up here and help us and we are available to go to other places and help them," Young said.
"To have somebody else that can relate to you and listen to you and understand at the same level of what you do is vitally important to their well-being for their mental stability and officers see some bad things in their career and that's just the way it is that's the nature of the job we do but knowing there is a a place you can go and people you can talk to is a big help to them," Owens said.
The LPD Crisis Team assisted in Odessa after the death of three officers in 2007.
"I reached out to Dallas police department to see if there was anything we could do," Young said.
"The whole week after the incident impacts people and the incident kind of carries on even after the immediate threat is over and the funerals are a part of that to it's not until a couple days after the funeral that everyone will kinda let down and take a breathe and that's the best time to give people a chance to process what they have been through," Young said.
"You've gotta give it some time and have to let us grieve like anybody else, after a period of time then it's time to come together and talk about what you're going through," Owens said.
Young said a crisis team will probably start speaking with Dallas Police officers at least two days after the last funeral.
FROM LUBBOCK CW
Posted: Jun 09, 2016 9:39 PM EDT
Earlier this year, Lubbock Police Department's patrol division lengthened its shift hours to address manpower issues. It switched from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts.
"By going to the 12-hour shift, we can spread out more officers throughout the city and more officers on duty at one time," LPD Lt. Ray Mendoza said.
"If I was on duty, I would love it," City Councilman and former LPD officer Floyd Price said.
Council voted Thursday to allow two doctoral investigators to research how these longer hours affect officer performance through February 2019. Texas Tech University professor Megan Thoen and Lubbock Christian University professor Andy Young said their research is not to tell LPD what's right or wrong, it is to protect the well-being of those on the force.
"They're working long shifts, they're having a long change at work, anything like that can affect a person's home life, it can affect their job performance so it seems wise to try and see how a change affects a person at their job," Young said. "It seems always wise when there's a systemic change in a police officer's life or anybody's life, you want to take a look at how that will affect that person and affect the department as a whole. We're going to try and do this for a number of years to try and measure the impact as people adjust to a new schedule."
"They're the ones that actually have to perform the duties," Price said. "Studies are excellent to sort of get the catch on things where you would likely be one way or the other. You do the study and you get the input from the people who the study is going to affect and take the data."
How they will study the officers, they cannot exactly say. However, they can tell us the work will be under strict scrutiny.
"We have to be careful about answering that question too, because we don't want to affect the study before we do it," Young said. "There's a review board at Tech that makes sure this is study is done right, everybody involved is protected and no undo coercion is done."
Young is no stranger to working with Lubbock police. he has been with the department since 2000. He is the negotiator for the SWAT team, coordinator for the victim services crisis team and the coordinator for the critical incident stress management team. He even wrote a book about his experiences with LPD.
"Nobody really knows and can appreciate what goes on at 3 a.m. behind the yellow tape so I wanted to write some of those stories down so people can have a better understanding of what this work is like," Young said.
Young said his co-investigator, Thoen, is also well-versed with police work and its culture.
"Law enforcement is an important work and to assist officers who are trying to do their work has been gratifying to me," Young said.