Memorial Stadium Hosts Homeland Security Exercise

Photo: A Redwood City SWAT Division participates in the Urban Shield training, the largest homeland security exercise in the nation this weekend.
Tim Maloney/Staff
A Redwood City SWAT Division participates in the Urban Shield training, the largest homeland security exercise in the nation this weekend.

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Urban Shield

Urban Shield is a program coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to train and prepare tactical teams.

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Homeland Security Exercise Slideshow
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UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium was part of the largest tactical homeland security exercise in the nation this weekend that brought local and international law enforcement agencies together for 48 hours of emergency preparedness training across the Bay Area.

Teams from both UCPD and the Berkeley Police Department participated in the Urban Shield training event, and UCPD organized a scenario involving a dirty bomb and active shooter at the stadium. Although the Berkeley Police Department had a team participate in the event, the department was unable to host a scenario this year due to resource and budget considerations, according to Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office and Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative hosted the event for the fourth year, providing law enforcement teams an opportunity to evaluate and hone skills in crisis management, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson, spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

"It's 24 solid hours of teams coming through scenarios and a lot of work for department," Kusmiss said. "It takes a lot of resources and money, but we are excited that UCPD is hosting a creative scenario in Berkeley because it gives the university positive exposure."

Starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, 25 teams participated in 26 scenarios located all over the Bay Area. The types of crisis scenarios varied but were all based on real life events and designed to be as realistic as possible, according to Nelson.

"We put the people through the most realistic scenarios they can face so when they encounter something like it in real life, their training will kick in, and they can solve the problem," Nelson said.

The scenario at the stadium tested the ability of tactical teams to apprehend multiple suspects in possession of a dirty bomb in a large stadium environment. Teams were tested on their ability to use chemical agent masks and use of sniper and observer personnel, according to UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett.

The scenario was organized by UCPD, which has been preparing for the event for months, Bennett said.

"We wanted a scenario that would be rather lifelike and important for us and other Bay Area teams to go through," she said. "This year we chose the stadium because it was empty for the away game."

In the simulation, a sniper shot a civilian sitting in the stands as team members entered the stadium. Teams were then informed that a chemical-detecting device had gone off in the snack bar area. Storming the concourse, teams were hit with a barrage of thick smoke while "suspects" fled for cover behind the snack bar counter. After securing the suspects, teams searched the rest of the concourse and reported back to check-in for a debriefing session.

UCPD bomb technicians designed the simulated bomb, and teams were provided with handsets which displayed a live video feed from the concourse area, according to UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode, head organizer of the event. DeCoulode said that the event gave agencies the chance to test new technology.

GPS technology tracked teams as they moved from site to site, reporting to a command center established at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, according to DeCoulode.

"It gives us the ability to track what's going on," DeCoulode said. "The teams are tested, but the different sites get an opportunity to practice communication in an emergency situation."


Contact Kate Lyons at [email protected]

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