For Immediate Release
September 28, 2017

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Announces New York State First Responders Conduct Major Exercise in Oneida County

More than 100 New York First Responders from Bomb Squads, Explosive Detection Canine Teams, and Tactical Teams Train at the Third Annual ‘Excelsior Challenge’

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today announced that more than 100 bomb technicians, explosive detection canine handlers, and tactical team officers from across New York State participated this week in the third annual ‘Excelsior Challenge’ exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. During the three and a half-day exercise, participants tested their response capabilities in seven scenario-based activities based on current threats around the world. All of the scenarios were modeled after real-world incidents that occurred across the globe, including Barcelona, London, Nice, Orlando, Paris and St. Petersburg.

“As Governor Cuomo has clearly stated, the safety and security of all New Yorkers and the state’s visitors is the number one job in government,” said Roger L. Parrino Sr., Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “This type of exercise involving real-world threats helps ensure that our state’s first responders remain among the best trained in the country, and that they are prepared to protect us from harm.”

Joining responders from across New York this year were experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). To support cross-border coordination, a law enforcement team from Peel Regional Police in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, acknowledged as one of Canada’s most progressive police services, also joined the training with their counterparts from New York this week.

This year’s exercise included nearly 25 students from SUNY Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the first-of-its-kind program in the United States. The students served as role players in each of the scenarios at the exercise, and had the opportunity to support the various instructional teams.

In addition to an enhanced partnership with UAlbany, other new additions to the 2017 Excelsior Challenge include:

  • Scenarios included an attack on a crowded nightclub; a vehicle ramming attack; an attack on a subway car; an attack in a mall, and a law enforcement response to a known gang safe house.
  • Various scenarios will incorporate use of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology with support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This effort complements a new series of UAS training courses that the SPTC is currently developing.

  • A sub-set of Excelsior Challenge participants will train using their own radios on the National Interoperability Channels with the support from the State Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications. This is an integral component of DHSES’ efforts to provide the most realistic training experience possible at the Excelsior Challenge.

Operated by DHSES, the SPTC’s vast array of training venues gives bomb squad, canine teams and tactical teams a chance to train in realistic environments such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, the SPTC annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, namely law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and officer survival tactics.

DHSES has made numerous enhancements to the Excelsior Challenge each year since the exercise began as a training for explosive detection canine teams. Driven by the changing threat environment, the annual exercise evolved in 2012 to focus on joint training between bomb squads and explosive detection canine teams. During the past two years, DHSES made further advancements to the exercise by adding tactical teams with an emphasis on full bomb squad, explosive detection canine team and tactical team coordination.

Margaret E. Ryan, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said, “The multidiscipline approach of the Excelsior Challenge and the New York State Preparedness Training Center creates an environment for emergency services to enhance their ability to create scenario-based training in a realistic environment. Law enforcement agencies from across New York State training together tests the interoperability to provide increased readiness for all. The Excelsior Challenge and the SPTC are a great resource for our emergency responders across the state to prepare for any emergency.“

Stephen J. Diaczyszyn, Unit Chief, Counter IED Unit, FBI said, “Interoperability training between tactical teams, bomb technicians and canine teams is essential due to the evolving complexity of terrorist and terrorist inspired attacks. The Excelsior Challenge exercise, which is hosted at the cutting-edge State Preparedness Training Center, provides an outstanding venue to receive this critical training.   As the agency responsible for training, certifying and accrediting public safety bomb squads and bomb technicians, the FBI is here in partnership with subject matter experts from New York's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to ensure a realistic training experience grounded in the tactics, techniques and procedures taught at the FBI's Hazardous Devices School.”

John Simpson, Raven’s Challenge Program Manager, ATF said, “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is pleased to partner with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to provide video and audio support to the 2017 Excelsior Challenge. Utilizing technology and equipment from the nationwide Ravens Challenge exercise, managed by ATF and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, allows participants the ability to view real time activity and provides bomb technicians the opportunity to review their tactics and techniques as they respond to complex threats and devices. The Ravens Challenge team appreciates the opportunity to bring this technical support to the Excelsior Challenge this year.”

Stu Cameron, Chief, Suffolk County Police Department said, “The Suffolk County Police Department is very pleased to have an opportunity for our bomb squad, tactical team and canine section to work together with other like assets from across New York State on realistic scenarios at the State Preparedness Training Center. This type of training is invaluable and it will enhance our overall capability to respond to complex scenarios.”

Paul A. Stasaitis, Captain, Commanding Officer of the Patrol and Special Operations Division, Westchester County Police Department said, “The Westchester County Police have participated in this event since its inception, and are looking forward to taking part again this year. Each time we have been here we have learned something new that has been brought back and integrated into our training and operations. Working with the teams from other regions of the state has developed new and beneficial relationships for not only our specialized teams, but also for the department in general.”

Joseph L. Grella, Sergeant, Nassau County Police Department said, “The Nassau County Police Department is once again excited to participate in this year's Excelsior Challenge. With the ever evolving tactics of terrorists and active shooters it is imperative for police departments to continually train in realistic scenarios. Having the ability to integrate tactical teams, bomb squads and canine teams is critically important to the effective and efficient response to those incidents. The New York State Preparedness Training Center provides this as well as the networking and inter-agency collaboration that enhances everyone's capability.”

Local Law Enforcement Agencies

 

 

Law Enforcement Agency

Bomb Squad

Explosive Detection Canine Team

Tactical Team

Albany County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

Binghamton Police Department

 

X

X

Broome County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

Endicott Police Department

X

 

 

Erie County Sheriff's Office

X

X

X

Middletown (City) Police Department

 

X

 

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

Nassau County Police Department

X

X

New Rochelle Police Department

 

X

X

New York Police Department

X

X

 

Niagara County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

Orange County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

Rochester Police Department

X

X

X

Rockland County Sheriff's Office

X

 

 

Suffolk County Police Department

X

X

X

Syracuse Police Department

X

X

X

Wayne County Sheriff's Office

 

X

 

Westchester County Police Department

X

X

X

White Plains Police Department

 

X

X

 

 

State Agency/Authority

 

Agency/Authority

Bomb Squad

Explosive Detection Canine Team

Tactical Team

New York State Police

X

X

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department

 

X

 

Niagara Frontier Transit Authority

 

X

 

 

 

Additional Law Enforcement Agencies Participating

 

Agency

Bomb Squad

Explosive Detection Canine Team

Tactical Team

Peel Regional Police Department

X

X

X

 

 

About DHSES

 

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications --  provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and 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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