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Law enforcement agencies perform security exercise on Lake Ontario

Members from about 20 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and Canada were on Lake Ontario today to take part in a full-scale security and preparedness exercise.

Dale Currier, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office, says today's exercise dealt with the loss of a commercial radiation source being brought in from Canada, and could have been used in a dirty bomb if it fell into the wrong hands.

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO

"The idea today is bringing together many organizations, many in law enforcement in particular, who would be tasked with -- once intelligence was made available of what might be happening -- to try to find it," Currier said. "And if they find it, to safely contain it, dispose of it, etcetera."

Currier says besides completing the exercise in the most efficient and complete way possible, there are other lessons that can be learned.

"First is to being everybody together to work through a consistent plan of how we would work together," Currier said. "Learning to work with our colleagues and getting to know one another before an incident is very important. It makes a real incident a lot more effective, response-wise."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
Local law enforcement park near the U.S. Coast Guard station in Oswego.

Currier says the entire exercise takes about eight to twelve months to plan and coordinate between all of the agencies. It all culminates in the simulation, which puts more than 500 people out in the field on boats, in helicopters and in airplanes.

Although the rainy weather on Lake Ontario didn't provide the best scenario for today's exercise, Currier says the less than ideal conditions provide an added challenge for those participating.

"We practice in all weather," Currier said. "Kind of the mantra is, you train and you practice the same way that you would carry out an operation, because that's reality. In a lot of ways, if you can show and demonstrate that you can carry these things out in bad weather, if it occurs on a nice day, then you're that much farther ahead."

He says that the exercise is important for Oswego County because it serves as the gateway to both the western Great Lakes and the Erie Canal to the east. Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, Border Patrol, New York State Police, and local fire and police agencies were among those involved.