September 18, 2019

5th ANNUAL EXCELSIOR CHALLENGE PROVIDES CUTTING-EDGE TRAINING FOR BOMB SQUADS, CANINE HANDLERS, AND TACTICAL TEAMS

Exercise Brings Bomb 110 Technicians, Explosive Detection Canine Handlers and Tactical Team Members Together for Training

Lifelike Scenarios Developed From, And Based Upon, Real-World Threats 

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today announced more than 110 members of law enforcement from the United States and Canada are participating in cutting-edge training to address current threats at the 5th Annual Excelsior Challenge. Participants, including FBI-certified bomb technicians, explosive detection canine handlers and tactical team operators, will form six task forces to respond to five core scenarios inspired by real-world events during the two and a half-day exercise. This year, 40 bomb technicians participated in the Excelsior Challenge, the largest number of bomb specialists to ever attend. This year’s training event ran from September 16-19 at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany.

“The Excelsior Challenge presents members of specialty law enforcement teams with scenarios based on modern threats where they must work together as a cohesive team to solve the problem,” said Patrick Murphy, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “This type of scenario-based training is invaluable to these specialists as it gives them the opportunity to practice their response to high-risk incidents in a real-world environment.”

The Excelsior Challenge helps increase operational coordination, communication and integration between bomb squads, explosive detection canine teams and tactical teams. The exercise reinforces skills practiced during previous discipline-specific events such as Tactical Week, the Raven’s Challenge and Canine Week, all held earlier this year at the State Preparedness Training Center.

This year’s Excelsior Challenge involved the support of 47 instructors from agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Secret Service. To help make the scenarios as real as possible, the exercise utilized more than 130 role players, including approximately 25 student role-players from the University at Albany College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, and 17 students from Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. The exercise also received support from the Division’s Office of Counter Terrorism and the Office of Interoperable Emergency Communications.

2019 Scenarios: The State Preparedness Training Center identified five core scenarios for the 2019 Excelsior Challenge including:

  • Large-Scale Mass Gathering with Violence:  This scenario is based on incidents in Charlottesville and Baton Rouge and featured 50 role players. 
  • House of Worship Attack:  This scenario is based on incidents in Pittsburgh, Poway, Calif., and New Zealand.
  • Serial Parcel Bomber Takedown: A scenario based on incidents in New York State and Florida involving the takedown of a suspected serial bomber during a night operation. 
  • Hospital Emergency Room Attack: This scenario involved a lone wolf domestic terrorist attack on hospital patients.
  • Dignitary Protection: A scenario supported by the U.S. Secret Service involving the protection of a dignitary in a venue with an increasing threat of possible violence.

 

"As the commander of one of the largest canine units in the United States, I find the Excelsior Challenge is one of the best canine training sessions that my officers conduct, said Lieutenant John Pappas of the New York City Police Department. “The training is reality-based and practical. It is one of the only training courses that combines canine, bomb squad and tactical personnel all working together to mitigate scenarios ranging from the simple to the complex. Participants walk away with a better understanding of how to work with other specialty units to mitigate a critical incident."

“We are grateful to participate in the Excelsior Challenge,” said City of Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. “The planning and training process is essential to ensure we are ready to handle any situation.”

Agencies participating in the 2019 Excelsior Challenge include: 

Agency

Event Planning & Support

Bomb Squad

EDC Team

Tactical Team

Albany County Sheriff's Office

X

 

X

 

British Columbia Transit Police (Canada)

X

 

 

 

Buffalo Police Department

X

 

 

X

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

X

X

 

 

Charlottesville Police Department (VA)

X

 

 

 

Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

X

Colonie Police Department

X

 

 

 

DHS Science and Technology Directorate

X

 

 

 

East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office (LA)

X

 

 

 

Endicott Police Department

 

X

 

 

Erie County Sheriff's Office

X

X

X

 

Federal Bureau of Investigation

X

 

 

 

Madison County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

X

Metropolitan Transportation Authority

X

 

X

X

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

X

X

X

 

Nassau County Police Department

X

X

 

 

New Hartford Police Department

 

 

 

X

New Jersey State Police

 

X

 

 

New Rochelle Police Department

X

 

X

X

New York Police Department

X

X

X

 

New York State Police

X

X

X

 

Niagara County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

 

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Police

X

 

 

 

NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs

X

 

 

 

Oneida County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

X

Onondaga County Sheriff's Office

X

X

 

 

Orange County Sheriff's Office

X

 

X

X

Peel Regional Police (Canada)

 

X

X

 

Rochester Police Department

 

X

X

X

Rockland County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

 

SO15 Counterterrorism Command (UK)

X

 

 

 

Suffolk County Police Department

X

X

X

X

Syracuse Police Department

 

X

 

X

Transportation Security Agency

X

 

 

 

Troy Police Department

X

 

X

X

University at Albany

X

 

 

 

United States Army (Military EOD)

 

X

 

 

United States Coast Guard

 

 

X

 

United States Secret Service

X

 

 

 

Utica Police Department

 

 

 

X

Westchester County Police Department

 

X

X

 

White Plains Police Department

X

 

X

X

 

About the State Preparedness Training Center

The State Preparedness Training Center operated by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, affords state, local, and federal agencies a complex of training venues to conduct the entire spectrum of training. From classroom lectures and discussions to reality- and high-performance scenario-based training, the SPTC offers opportunities for dynamic emergency first responder training. The SPTC offers agencies realistic training environments such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Now in its 13th year of operation, the SPTC annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and patrol officer survival.

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services  provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism, natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.

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