COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— Local first responders have responded to several, multi-hour stand-offs so far this year. All incidents have come to peaceful resolutions, thanks to the efforts of the department’s team of negotiators.
The Columbus Police Department’s Hostage Crisis Negotiation Team has had a high success rate over the last eight years with only one death when navigating a stand-off, or hostage situation.
The team is made up of nine negotiators, who are split up into two squads. Together, they’ve negotiated crisis incidents lasting up to 27 hours. WRBL was able to speak with the Team Commander to take a closer look at what makes them so successful. Commander of the Hostage Crisis Negotiation Team, Lt. Alan McCarty, who has been the Team Commander for the last eight years, credits the team’s track record to its composition of negotiators.
“One thing you got to have is dedicated people, and we do. I’m just fortunate that we have good people on this team, and it doesn’t come down to me. It’s a team effort, and it doesn’t matter if I’m doing the negotiating or somebody else on the team; when we get this person to come out, it’s a win for all of us. So, it’s not it’s not me. It’s the team that should take the credit for it,” Lt. McCarty shares.
Each team member completed at least a 40-hour course, as well as on-the-job training.
Lt. McCarty says staying vigilant is key to long negotiations, because the situation can change on a dime; especially when dealing with individuals in a crisis, or even a mental health crisis.
“Our number one goal is to bring it to a peaceful resolution. You know, we don’t want to hurt anybody. We don’t want anybody to get hurt. So we do we do take it seriously and we take each individual incidents seriously and they’re all different but the current chief does a good job of of giving us latitude and trust. And we do everything we can to end it peacefully,” he says.
The Team’s Work
The most recent stand-off incident took place just last month, Columbus police say they received calls from neighbors the morning of June 13, 2022 in reference to an un-named man who was acting suspiciously and threatening to set fires.
Police blocked off a portion of 19th Street between 13th and 14th Avenues that afternoon, as they negotiated with the suspect, 30-year-old Ian Aycock, who was inside a residence.
When police arrived to the area, they found multiple improvised explosive devices.
Based on investigation, officials said probable cause was established that Aycock was the individual who was responsible for making the devices.
Police say negotiators were able to take Aycock into custody without incident that same evening. He was charged with Manufacturing an Explosive Device, two counts of Reckless Conduct, Drug Related Objects, and Simple Assault.
More on the 19th St. stand-off:
June 13, 2022: COLUMBUS: Police presence on 19th St. and 13th to 14th Ave.
Another incident from earlier this year took place at the Park Place Apartments on Wynnton Road involving a domestic dispute.
After 18 hours, the negotiators were able to convince the suspect, 48-year-old Jeffrey Watkins, to release the hostage and give himself up.
He was charged with false imprisonment and possession of a firearm.
More on the Wynnton Rd. stand-off:
March 24, 2022: 18 hour police stand-off with hostage comes to an end
March 25, 2022: Columbus Police release name of Wynnton Road standoff suspect