BCSO negotiators participate in hostage negotiation competition

By Bill Barajas - Reporter

SAN MARCOS, Texas - The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and its team of negotiators participated in a hostage negotiation competition in San Marcos on Wednesday.

It's the ultimate stress test, a real-life scenario that’s meant to challenge each and every team’s ability to solve hostile and violent situations.

The Bexar County Sheriffs Office is one of 28 teams in the competition, which includes teams from across the country and even one from Singapore.

"The scenario we're working on is four or five individuals that have taken hostages inside a homeless shelter, ICE facility, and they're making demands on what they want," said Dr. Brandy Burque, a psychologist for the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, who is the newest addition to the department. 

Burque previously worked at the San Antonio Police Department.

"My role as a psychologist is to provide information on any mental health aspects of the hostage taker or anybody that's involved in the incident," Burque said. "If they have a prior diagnosis or medications or anything like that, I'm going to help advise the team on that."

"One of the big things I also do is monitor how the team is feeling because it is a critical incident for everyone involved, so I'm making sure everyone is doing OK, as well," Burque said.

Burque is also trying to make an impact on the lives of deputies who may need help managing the job's daily struggles.

"One of the programs that we developed is Performance and Recovery Optimization. It's a program that we are hoping to implement with the Sheriffs Office, with the help of deputies to make a comprehensive wellness program that tackles both the psychological and physiological effects of stress," Burque said.

Burque said the program will be implemented slowly.

As for the competition, the winners will be announced on Thursday.

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