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CDCR Crisis Negotiators join first competition

Correctional staff in front of a Bakersfield Police Department command center mobile unit.
The negotiation team from Sierra Conservation Center took the win for the first Crisis Negotiation Competition.

By Lt. Dana Mortimer, Centinela State Prison

On Saturday, Dec. 14, the first Crisis Negotiations Competition was held at the Valley Oaks Charter School in Bakersfield.

CDCR Crisis Response Team negotiators from Sierra Conservation Center, California Men’s Colony, CSP-Los Angeles County, California Correctional Institution and Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) Hostage Negotiations Team participated in a five-hour crisis scenario.

Large group of people pose around a Bakersfield Police Department mobile command center vehicle.
Teams, role-players and support for the first Crisis Negotiations Competition in Bakersfield.

Participating as support, logistic and scenario role players for the competition were staff from the CDCR Emergency Operation Unit and CRT Negotiations members from Calipatria/Centinela, California Correctional Center/High Desert State Prison, North Kern/Wasco/Kern Valley prisons, and Folsom/Sacramento/Mule Creek prisons.

The California Association of Hostage Negotiations (CAHN) board members were onsite and evaluated the competition.

The competition was coordinated through Lt. Josh Kiel, EOU; Lt. Joseph Kohler, Negotiations Leader for CRT Team 13; and the BPD Negotiations Team Leader Sgt. N. Anderberg. The event was established to put the teams’ training environment to a test in a real-life, scenario-based training.

The teams were judged by independent certified Negotiators throughout the state who graded on the teams’ overall functionality and teamwork.

The competition was close but the winner of this year’s competition was SCC, who gathered the most available intelligence during the scenario.

A board member from CAHN who attended the competition said, “I was impressed with the organization of the entire competition.” Another said, “Overall, I think you did an excellent job setting this competition up and would love to see it grow further.”

This first California competition was loosely based on one held in Texas. That’s when EOU sent a team to the 29th annual Crisis Negotiation competition hosted by Texas State University in San Marcos. The CDCR CRT Negotiation Team finished 11th overall out of 35 teams from around the country and Singapore.