School helps police develop homeland security options

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 25, 2003

What happens if a sudden illness strikes visitors at the convention center? It could be nothing more than the flu, but it could also be a biological or nerve gas attack by terrorists.

Who has a plan for such a scenario? The Selma Police Department.

Officers at the rank of sergeant and above, the department’s command staff, recently spent three days at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston developing homeland security plans.

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They weren’t alone.

Evans visited the school in July and participated in classes and exercises with various agencies in preparation for a possible terrorist attack.

Evans’ role as a law enforcement officer is to set up a perimeter in case of an attack and determine the nature of the attack. &uot;It could be a bomb, it could be a nerve agent attack, it could be a biological attack,&uot; Evans said.

Different chemical agents have different effects and it’s important to establish which is used in an attack so the proper remedy is employed. A biological agent would require all affected people to remain in the affected area. A nerve agent would require a portable decontamination unit to be used.

The first day of class had Evans in a classroom before being placed in a group from different agencies. Together they began developing a plan for &uot;Model City,&uot; an intricate model city which included homes, businesses and parks.

On the second day information about the possible locations of attacks was slowly fed to the groups as they continued creating plans.

On the third day different duties were divided among team members and the full-fledged &uot;attack&uot; began.

Sick people in Model City’s convention center turned out to be suffering from a terrorist attack. Evans and his group used the city during presentations to classmates and instructors about how they would handle the situation.