RIVIERA BEACH (CBSMiami) – The exercises look frighteningly real. But the activity at the Port of Palm Beach is a terrorism drill.
On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of law enforcement officers from Palm Beach, Dade and Broward counties are taking part in Operation Guardian to test the response of the region’s specialty teams.
The Southeast Regional Domestic Security Task Force is coordinating the drill.
More than 300 responders are handling scenarios involving active shooters, hostages and violent protesters.
The exercise includes active shooter attacks and hostage-taking onboard a freighter, bus and on two floors of a building.
“Why do you think professional athletes practice all the time? So when it’s game time they know what they are doing and how to do it,” said Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. “So God forbid, if it’s game time, we know what to do.”
The specialty teams, which include SWAT, bomb squad, field force and forensics teams, are from the Broward and Palm Beach County sheriff’s offices, Miami-Dade Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach police departments.
Operation Guardian will also test the region’s forensics teams (CSI) and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD, or bomb squad) technicians, having them participate in additional scenarios at the port.
Operation Guardian furthers the ability of the RDSTF regional teams to implement training programs and improve all-hazards response capabilities to prevent, protect, respond and recover from such events.
Organizers say these drills matter more than ever now that president Donald Trump is using his Palm Beach mansion Mar-a-Lago as a winter White House
“When there’s a major incident it’s not one agency. It’s all hands on deck and that’s why we plan together, train together and exercise together,” said Mike Jachles of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.