By Lt. Yvonne “Chrissy” Hackler, A.A., Public Information Officer
California Correctional Center
A team from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation coordinated with other crisis teams during a recent massive training exercise.
California Correctional Center (CCC) and High Desert State Prison (HDSP) Crisis Response Team (CRT) participated in Urban Shield, hosted by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern.
Urban Shield is an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), funded by Homeland Security Evaluation Exercise Program (HSEEP).
Urban Shield is a continuous 48-hour event during which emergency medical services, fire rescue and local, state, federal and international law enforcement teams participate in the full-scale exercise.
Urban Shield provided 35 realistic exercise scenarios, such as terrorist events, and natural or man-made disasters.
“It’s important to be involved with outside training venues to ensure our department and tactical teams stay abreast of industry standards, challenges and new concepts,” said CRT Commander Lt. Matt DeForest. “The Crisis Response Teams throughout the state have a large responsibility to protect and save lives during a critical incident at any one of our institutions.”
This year over 5,500 participants were involved with the massive exercise. Volunteers for this exercise came from the community and included Bay Area residents, business owners, students, scout troops, Google and members of other organizations.
Their involvement is critical to the success of this training exercise, which takes place across six counties. There were plenty of challenges.
“The difficulty of any challenge is based on individual circumstances, for some participants the rigorous physical training might be difficult, for everyone the challenge of staying up for 48 hours and actively addressing each scenario during Urban Shield was a challenge,” said CRT Strike Squad Leader Lt. Dave Mendonca. “The team did conduct trainings which encompassed at least 32 hours straight. Gaining access to physical locations to train was an administrative challenge. We accessed airports and utilized jet liners, we accessed churches which also helped to simulate theaters, time was spent in the shoot house, buses, schools and warehouses. The team utilized tools already available to us to overcome and conquer obstacles in each of these environments.”
The purpose is to enhance the skills and abilities of first responders and those responsible for managing large scale events.
CCC/HDSP CRT participated in 35 individual events ranging from Active Shooter/Immediate Action Team scenarios to detecting radiological devices or materials. The team arrived on Sept. 5 and received mission and safety briefings as well as an introduction to the latest technology to be used in the training scenarios.
In addition, each team member completed a medical assessment and firearms qualification at the Alameda County Regional Training Center Range Facility. The actual training events begin at 5 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, at the Alameda harbor for the Maritime Interdiction scenario.
After four 12-hour operational periods, on Sept. 8 at 5 a.m., they finished at Coast Guard Island for Dignitary Protection with the Secret Service.
The CCC/HDSP team finished above 16 other tactical teams.
“The Urban Shield event was extremely beneficial to the team members by providing realistic scenarios which they are evaluated by subject matter experts and provided feedback. Team members were able to experience and utilize equipment that is otherwise not available during normal training venues,” said Lt. DeForest.
He was quick to thank the wardens for their support of the effort.
“On behalf of the Crisis Response Team, I wanted to thank High Desert State Prison Warden Fred Foulk and California Correctional Center Warden Robert Gower for their continued support,” said Lt. DeForest.
While the jobs of those who patrol the streets and those who patrol the corridors of the prison may seem different to outsiders, the methods and tactics for responding to crisis situations is the same.
“The CCC/HDSP CRT Team has had the opportunity to train with outside agencies on many occasions. We travel several times a year to different challenges and training venues,” said Lt. Mendonca. “I believe the entire SWAT community has many of the same or similar techniques used through the industry. As new information or techniques becomes available, we incorporate that into our training then practice until it becomes a habit. During the Challenged Events, our style and tactics are very much in line with the rest of other law enforcement agencies and more specifically SWAT operations.”