FBI, DHS train for terrorist incident response

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security hosted a training exercise on Sunday in Strongsville, Ohio, that involved the simulation of a complex terrorist attack in a public venue.

The DHS and FBI partnered with representatives from state and local law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire departments and the private sector to execute the final phase of the Complex Mall Attack initiative. The initiative was developed to promote preparedness among local, state and federal officials.

"In today's world, it is imperative that law enforcement, emergency personnel, and private sector partners train and collaborate through scenarios involving potential attacks," Stephen Anthony, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland Division, said. "Starwood Retail, the owner of SouthPark Mall, has been more than accommodating to allow officials the opportunity to engage in training that simulates actual events requiring a coordinated response by many entities."

The training session took place from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday so as to not interfere with normal mall operations. The mall continued its regularly scheduled Sunday retail hours after the exercise.

"Our management staff, security teams, and merchants take these training scenarios very seriously," Kurt Reddick, the general manager of the SouthPark Mall, said. "We understand the need for readiness and these scheduled exercises led by our law enforcement partners help all of us prepare for potential community emergencies. Thank you to everyone for their patience during this event."

Participating agencies included members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Strongsville Mayor's Office, Strongsville Fire/EMS Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, among others.

"I am appreciative of the commitment that the FBI has displayed in addressing joint training with local law enforcement," Jim Kobak, the Strongsville chief of police, said. "Preparing for active shooter and terrorist-related threats has become such a focal point in our police readiness that this type of training cannot be overlooked, nor can we afford to become complacent."