SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Some of the best hostage negotiators in the country are on Texas State University’s campus this week. They’re training and competing in the 33rd Annual Competition and Seminar for Crisis Negotiations.

This year, 29 teams are taking part. They are each tasked with solving real-world hostage situations.

The scenarios aren’t real but they’re made to feel like they are. The actors in the exercises are Texas State University students.

Judges evaluate the groups, give them feedback and rank them. They come from all over the world, but the Hays County Crisis Negotiation Team didn’t have to travel far.

  • The Hays County team participates in a hostage negotiation competition at Texas State University (KXAN Photo/Sarah Al-Shaikh)
  • The Hays County team participates in a hostage negotiation competition at Texas State University (KXAN Photo/Sarah Al-Shaikh)
  • The Hays County team participates in a hostage negotiation competition at Texas State University (KXAN Photo/Sarah Al-Shaikh)
  • The Hays County team participates in a hostage negotiation competition at Texas State University (KXAN Photo/Sarah Al-Shaikh)
  • The Hays County team participates in a hostage negotiation competition at Texas State University (KXAN Photo/Sarah Al-Shaikh)

“Work on teamwork, work on our active listening skills, and ultimately resolve the situation peacefully,” Hays County Deputy Garrett Dominguez said.

Dominguez said this training is just one way they prepare.

“I believe last year we had around 20 callouts. A lot of them are what we call barricaded subjects. We did have a couple of hostage situations,” he said.

First-time crisis negotiator Antoine Linsey admitted to getting frustrated at times. “Sometimes you want to just hang up the phone yourself,” he said.

But Linsey believes this will better prepare him for the real thing.

“Keeping them on the phone, figuring out anything they need, if anyone’s hurt,” Linsey said.

Hays County ranked second last year so they’re vying for the top spot this time around. But beyond the scores, they said the real prize is the experience.

“They really try to raise our stress levels and really test us,” Dominguez said.