LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) – With images of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of a controversial police shooting, officers and deputies took to the field at Broward’s Central Park in Lauderhill Wednesday morning for a training session.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is helping to train Broward Sheriff deputies and officers from five other Broward agencies on handling a large-scale riot.
South Florida is no stranger to civil unrest.
Back in 2003, police in Miami clashed with protesters during a free trade conference.
Two hundred and fifty people were arrested and 100 others were hurt. Police used tear gas and tasers to control the crowd.
“Everybody understands this is learning to work in sync,” says Broward Sheriff Scott Israel who spoke to more than 60 law enforcement officers in training.
Israel said in the event of widespread civil unrest the Broward Sheriff will take the lead.
He said each situation will be handled differently and he will assess what resources are needed.
This training focuses on understanding free speech and the use of force as well as strategies for dealing with crowds.
“We are going to use the least amount of force as necessary to accomplish our objectives. In most cases those objectives are decided by the protesters,” said BSO Major Oscar Llerena.
Brian Gerity who is with the Sunrise Police Department said the training helps put him in the mind of a protester.
“The biggest thing is you prepare for safety. You are working with other agencies and you learn how to work together if something big happens,” said Gerity.