NCCU tests emergency preparedness in terrorism response drill
Posted January 3, 2013
Updated January 4, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Nearly 250 people from 21 law enforcement agencies were involved Thursday in a terrorism response training drill, known as Operation Eagle Swoop, on the campus of North Carolina Central University.
Tactical teams and emergency responders from agencies across the state, including those in Wake, Person and Guilford counties, took part in the five-hour, full-scale operation designed to test the capabilities and preparedness of NCCU's police department, as well as Durham County Emergency Medical Services, the Durham Police Department and Durham County Sheriff's Office.
The training exercise, the largest on a University of North Carolina system campus, included actors portraying gunmen, hostages and victims in an active-shooter scenario in the center of campus and hostage negotiations in two dorms.
NCCU students are on winter break. The university previously notified faculty and staff, as well as surrounding neighbors and businesses, of the day's event.
Since the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, universities across the country have held similar training scenarios.
Thursday's drill was the first for NCCU, which, last year, hired Sgt. Robert McLaughlin as its emergency management coordinator.
A retired Durham police officer who served in the department's weapons of mass destruction response unit, McLaughlin oversees such training and works with local law enforcement on such matters.
"This is a chance to test our incident command system, coordination between agencies and different radio frequencies and coordination among police, fire departments and emergency medical teams," McLaughlin said.
He added that the drill isn't just about how officers respond to such events, but that it's also about how agencies work together.
"These are not guys that they work with every day or train with weekly," he said. "These are some who may have never met until today, and now they’re on a team having to work together."