Mayor Jim Hahn made a point of announcing today that he has been briefed by homeland security secretary Tom Ridge and that Los Angeles is not the target of any current specific terrorist threat. Preparations for a terrorist incident continue this week, however. There will be a large-scale drill conducted in the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday. The Asymmetric Warfare Initiative Exercise is designed to test local response to detonation of a dirty bomb at the port, to coincide with a hijacking in Oakland and the presence of "insurgents" at San Francisco Airport. The drill continues on Friday with a simulated train derailment in Ventura County.
The mayor's release follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 2, 2004
Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn today said that Los Angeles is not the target of a specific credible threat and that the Los Angeles Police Department is working closely with state and federal officials to help ensure the safety and security of the city.
"I have been fully briefed by Secretary Ridge and, as always, the City of Los Angeles is in constant communication with local, state and federal law enforcement partners," Mayor Hahn said. "I want to reassure all residents that while there are no specific credible threats against any specific location in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department and local, state and federal agencies will continue to remain on a heightened level of vigilance."
Mayor Hahn said the city is taking several precautionary steps leading up to the November presidential election including:
The continuation of large-scale evacuation drills and exercises, such as the one being conducted later this week at the Port;
The continuation of Operation Archangel and similar homeland security programs that establish security protocols and procedures at high risk sites throughout the city;
The continued deployment of LAPD personnel at strategic intelligence centers so officials continue to act on accurate and timely information.
"All residents should go about their daily lives, but remain vigilant and alert. To report suspicious activity, dial 1 877 A THREAT," Mayor Hahn said. "I want to reassure all Los Angeles residents that we are doing everything in our power to make sure Los Angeles is safe and secure. The people of Los Angeles should rest easy this week not only because so many homeland security personnel are in the city right now, but because Los Angeles is working and practicing closely and continuously with security agencies at all levels."
Mayor Hahn was at the Port of Los Angeles this morning to discuss the Asymmetric Warfare Initiative Exercise that is taking place in Los Angeles on Aug. 5 and 6. The exercise is the Southern California Tactical Exercise portion of the United States Northern Command's Determined Promise 04 (DP-04) exercise and the State of California Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program's Golden Guardian 04 (GG-04) exercise.
"Since September 11, Los Angeles has formed even closer partnerships with federal, state and local agencies to share intelligence and respond effectively to any incident," Mayor Hahn said. "This exercise will put our front line police officers and firefighters, their commanders, and the civilian leaders of this city to the test, and will provide us with a useful assessment on how we can further perfect our operations."
"We are all aware of the fact that shutting this port down by a terrorist attack would cripple the economy of this nation, and the world. But, more important to me then the economical consequences of an attack at this port is the human element," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn. "I am concerned about the safety of the people that I represent as well as the men and women that work on these docks on a daily basis. Our longshoreworkers are truly on the front lines on the war on terrorism, as we never know what may lie within any one of the 11 million containers that come through this complex, which is why these drills are so important. Practice makes perfect."
The exercise will see local, state and federal agencies test their plans for analyzing and sharing intelligence, as well as for preventing and responding to multiple terrorist acts across the country this week during a series of coordinated local, state and federal exercises -- dubbed "Determined Promise '04," "Golden Guardian," "Amalgam Virgo 04" and "Asymmetric Warfare Initiative '04" -- that feature a combination of actual field and simulated demonstrations.
"Determined Promise '04" tests the ability of the United States Northern Command to assist civilian and federal authorities during incidents in Virginia and California. "Golden Guardian" focuses on California state agency response plans and efforts. "Amalgam Virgo 04" tests the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) plans and response to airborne terrorism, air piracy and other threats in Southern California, Oregon, Florida, Canada and Mexico; "Asymmetric Warfare Initiative '04" tests the ability of local agencies in the Los Angeles region to respond to a terrorist incident.
In the Los Angeles area, the detonation of a simulated "dirty bomb" on Thursday will test the ability of law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders from the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach to deal with the impacts of such an incident on the public and the environment in the port areas.
"It's important for the Police Department to not only work with its local partners but with federal agencies in training exercises like Determined Promise," said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. "It allows us to be better prepared at identifying, preventing and responding to terrorist threats and attacks."
"Preparedness is the responsibility of every American. The events of 9/11 have brought to the forefront a renewed sense of commitment for all of the nation's professional protectors," said Los Angeles Fire Department Chief William Bamattre. "The more than 3,000 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department remain committed to serve and protect the citizens of our many communities with the world class level of care they deserve. It is only through the collected efforts of the community and the many entities that will participate in "Determined Promise" that we can ensure our goals relative to Planning - Preventing - Responding - Recovering become reality."
That same day, local responders, support agencies, airport personnel and the Transportation Security Agency will implement their plans in response to an attempted hijacking at Oakland International Airport and the presence of insurgents in the terminal at San Francisco International Airport.
The incidents in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will also challenge state agencies with statutory authority for initial response, including the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the California Department of Health Services and the California Department of Social Services to implement their plans.
Events in the exercises also will test the ability of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) to implement its notification procedures, to mobilize additional local and state resources, including the 9th Civil Support Team of the California National Guard's (CNG), through the state's mutual aid system. Another challenge for OES, which will fully activate its regional emergency operations centers in Los Alamitos and Oakland and the State Operations Center at OES Headquarters in Sacramento for the exercise, is the timely procurement of federal resources, including medical supplies and military assistance to civilian authorities.
On Friday, the simulated terrorist-related derailment of a train measures the ability of Ventura County law enforcement, fire, hazardous materials and emergency services agencies to implement their response plans and further tests the ability of the state's mutual aid system to support local and state response efforts.
"Federal, State and local first responders have worked very hard since 9/11 to improve coordination and enhance our ability to prevent or respond to an attack," said California Homeland Security Director Ron Iden. "This week's exercises provide these first responders the chance to continue to hone our information sharing and response coordination skills, and to take the lessons learned from the exercise and focus our training efforts in those areas."
A major benefit of holding local, state and federal exercises in conjunction with one another is the opportunity for field and EOC personnel at all response levels to interact and coordinate in a real-world situations prior to actual events in multiple locations.
"In a emergency, local police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Francisco and Ventura will be the first on the scene if a terrorist attack occurs in their communities with support from their emergency operations centers and from state and federal agencies with statutory authority for responding," said OES Director Henry Renteria. "But one consistent lesson we've learned in every major emergency is that no one city or county can meet all the needs of its residents and businesses in a catastrophic situation. Knowing how to access needed resources and coordinating their use is critical to saving lives and protecting both property and the environment. This exercise provides participating agencies not only with a reinforcement of that knowledge, but additional confidence in their counterparts as well."
Development of the exercises has involved the participation of representatives of dozens of local, state and federal agencies with coordination from the OES, the CNG and the California Office of Homeland Security Exercise Program.
In order to provide a realistic environment for exercise participants, members of the planning team have maintained close control over details of the scenarios.
"We want these exercises to be as challenging as possible for all participants," said CNG Adjutant General Thomas Eres. "Mother Nature and terrorist groups don't provide specifics about when or where they're going to strike, so we've guarded specific details very closely."