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Staged Drill Demonstrates Multi-Agency Reaction to Dirty Bomb

June 14, 2007  | 

Hundreds of law enforcement officials from approximately 30 countries around the globe congregated in Miami where they watched SWAT teams rappel to the ground from a Blackhawk helicopter circling Florida's Orange Bowl. The mock demonstration showcased law enforcement's response to the threat of an impending "dirty bomb" set to explode.

"It is really a more highly choreographed demonstration than we would usually have," says Stephanie Veigas, a special agent with the FBI who is in charge of Miami's weapons of mass destruction team. "If this were real life it would be much slower, but we want to be able to show how local and federal law enforcement would neutralize weapons of mass destruction and radiological threats in a metropolitan area."

Highlights of the demonstration included a Sikorsky that flew over the stadium and made a deep banking turn, enabling it to hover 50 feet off the ground as the SWAT teams disembarked. In lieu of real guns, the teams carried paintball weapons. After surrounding a mock warehouse on the 50-yard line of the field, the officers secured the house in question and broke down the doors.

Echoes encased the stadium as multiple shots were fired. The officers found the nuclear device and disarmed it. No casualties occurred. Law enforcement won the day in the mock demo.

"By some estimates there is enough highly enriched uranium in global stockpiles to construct thousands of nuclear weapons — and it is safe to assume that there are many individuals who would not think twice about using such weapons," said FBI Director Robert Mueller in his opening speech at the conference.

Mueller added that the only way to fight the threat is without regard to borders, and with total cooperation — not just between countries, but between local and federal law enforcement also.

Conference officials say they hope there is never a need to put the Miami exercise into effect during a real-life scenario.

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