BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Law enforcement officers gathered at the North Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy for the first day of the week-long course on the topic of hostage negotiations.

“A lot of basic information in this course. Learning how to talk with people in crisis or people who are not making good choices because of emotions,” said the instructor Brandon Pierpoint.

Pierpoint is a retired Peace Officer with the state of Texas and served for over twenty years, and over the years Pierpoint has had his fair share of hostage situations.

“When people think hostage, they think of Hollywood and whatnot but these are more simple things such as someone having some sort of mental health issue, or alcohol or narcotics,” said Pierpoint.

One of the main points in the class was verbal containment.

“If we are in direct communication with somebody, we know that that person is not having harmful effects in their immediate environment. They aren’t hurting themselves, they aren’t hurting others around them,” said Pierpoint.

A trend that law enforcement has noticed over the years is the increase in mental health issues.

Pierpoint says these courses are important to take because of how society evolves.

“Our world shifts just like the rest of society moves and if we keep doing the things we did 100 years ago I mean, we obviously can’t do things we did 100 years ago,” said Pierpoint.

Michael Wood, with the Mandan Police Department, encourages officers to take the opportunity to take courses like this one.

“As far as law enforcement goes, active listening and learning how to talk with people is important. Whether you are a detective, patrolman on the street, or if you are working for special teams I think it’s really important to have those skills,” said Wood.

Wood says the goal is always to end a conflict peacefully.