250 Participate In Anti-Terrorist Drill In Dublin

Friday, September 28, 2007

A first of its kind anti-terrorist drill is getting underway in Alameda County. 250 members of law enforcement from across the state are involved in a Homeland Security operation called Urban Shield.

There will be helicopter drills at a base camp in Dublin and they will get to practice their fire arms training at a gun range there. However, most of the activities will take place far away from Dublin and you might even see them in your community.

You might see SWAT teams at the Oakland Airport this weekend surrounding a plane with their guns drawn.

"We have a commercial airplane there where the teams will be exposed to a commercial airline hijacking, it will involve suspects and hostages," said Cmdr. Brett Keteles, Alameda Co. Sheriff's Office.

Tactical teams will also be on the U.C. Berkeley campus responding to a scenario similar to what happened on the Virginia Tech campus -- with an armed man running loose at the school.

But none of this should alarm you - it's a drill - the first of its kind in the country. And they chose to have it in the Bay Area so officers could practice their skills in an urban environment.

"During the early stages of planning we round tabled about the infrastructure in the Bay Area that we knew we needed to protect," said Cmdr. Brett Keteles.

The drill will start tomorrow and last 50 hours straight, 25 teams will eventually visit 23 sites - including some rural ones - like the fake manhunt they'll stage in the Crystal Springs Reservoir. But the true test will come at places that are usually off limits - like the Lawrence Livermore Lab. Employees there, along with officers, will act like terrorists who have gained access to sensitive materials.

"It's a very secure facility and having the tactical officers' experience being on the property, just a portion of it is valuable to everybody," said Capt. William Gaudinier, Alameda Co. Sheriff's office.

Organizers say pulling law enforcement and the private sector together like this is unprecedented in the world of police drills.

"At first it was a little bit difficult, they were excited to help us -- it was just getting everybody to understand the scope of this exercise," said Capt. William Gaudinier.

All of those facilities that will be participating in this, U.C. Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore Lab -- they are volunteering their time and their space so that is big help to this drill. All the SWAT teams participating are from California except for one team from Boston. Paying for their time and all of their efforts is a grant from Homeland Security.

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