An upcoming series of training exercises in the Houston area will enable a number of local, state, and federal public safety agencies to train in multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional emergency response. - Image courtesy HPD / Twitter.

An upcoming series of training exercises in the Houston area will enable a number of local, state, and federal public safety agencies to train in multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional emergency response.

Image courtesy HPD / Twitter.

Earlier this week, officials in Houston notified the press and the public that there will be no need for widespread panic in the area when citizens suddenly see swarms of first responders

The Houston Police Department said in a Tweet that the United States Department of Defense, in conjunction with HPD and other local and federal law enforcement agencies is conducting a series of training exercises throughout the first three weeks of February.

"The exercise has been planned long in advance in cooperation with HPD and local authorities," the Tweet said. "It is not in response to any current world events and is expected to have minimal impact to our community."

The agency continued, "This type of collaborative training between local, state, and federal partners is very common as we continue to work to provide the best service to the public."

Such exercises highlight the need for regular training in multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional response.

As has been previously discussed in this space, response to large scale public safety incidents is complicated even when everyone racing to the scene is on the same page. It's made maddeningly more complex when the players show up together on the field for the first time when the game has already begun.

For roughly a decade, Urban Shield—held in San Francisco Bay Area—was the gold standard for emergency preparedness planning and training. Firefighters, EMTs, and LEOs worked together in a wide variety of training scenarios such as active shooter response, hostage rescue, and natural disaster.

Unfortunately, political pressure to "demilitarize police" led to Urban Shield's demise in 2019, but exercises like the one taking place this month in Houston are direct descendants.

The exercises in and around Houston this month will not allow for any public viewing in order to "maintain the highest level of security" and to an extent, this makes sense.

While there's some excellent reasoning in certain levels of secrecy around planned strategies and tactics in certain types of possible events, there is also a great deal of potential value found in citizen involvement in this kind of training.

For example, during Urban Shield, organizers utilized thousands of civilian volunteers as role players, proving the participating responders with an enhanced level of realism in the training.

Furthermore, these large-scale training events provide extraordinary opportunities for the public to learn more about how first responders will operate during an emergency, thus preparing them for their own behavior in the event of a "real world" situation.

Finally, dealing effectively with a major emergency requires prior planning and preparation—creating solutions to problems that haven't yet happened requires a special kind of imagination.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Contributing Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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