PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- The U.S. Army, Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center's unique Active Shooter Team provided full analytical video coverage, behavioral analysis, and technology evaluations at the NYPD Counterterrorism Division and FDNY Active Shooter Exercise (ASE) at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York on May 15.
The second ASE planned for this year will take place in Boston.
The purpose of these exercises is for the hosting agencies, ARDEC and the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate Counter Terrorism and Explosive Threat technologies in an operational environment.
The FBI found that during the period studied, 160 active-shooter incidents took place in the United States, resulting in 486 killed and 557 wounded.
A 2014 report by the FBI, "A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013," defines an "active shooter" as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
"In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Division and ARDEC initiated the establishment of the Combating Terrorism Technology Evaluation Program (CTTEP)," said Tanya Fogg, the program's leader.
This program supports ASEs that enable law enforcement and first responder organizations from surrounding agencies to respond to multiple shootings in a controlled, yet chaotic atmosphere in order to evaluate their capabilities.
"By conducting these ASEs, it allows law enforcement and first responders to understand their deficiencies without having a tragic outcome," said Fogg.
The ARDEC team works together with participating police departments, fire departments, security professionals, and site location management to orchestrate and deploy a full scale, operationally relevant, multi-agency response during ASEs that help to prepare hundreds of police officers and first responders.
To date, ARDEC's Active Shooter Team has participated in five ASEs. Each exercise provided not only training for the officers but also technology evaluations, after action reports, and raw footage that police and fire departments use to optimize the tactics, techniques and procedures they use when responding.
"We record the entire exercise, provide the video footage back to the trainers, and evaluate candidate technologies that DHS S&T or the hosting agency may be interested in," said Fogg, adding that it's what makes ARDEC's Active Shooter Team unique--no other organization uses technologies during the exercise, interprets the data, and writes a full evaluation.
ARDEC's Active Shooter Team
Originally consisting of just five ARDEC members, the Active Shooter Team has grown with each mission.
"So many times when we watch the news, we unfortunately see headlines of active shooter incidents taking place both locally and worldwide. It's been becoming an unfortunate trend, so when we were approached to help, we immediately started to figure out how," said Fogg.
Mike Corry from DHS also plays a crucial role in CTTEP. "In 2012, CTTEP received a request from the West Orange Police Department to see what we could do to help them in planning for an ASE. Mike went back to DHS with this request, and we ended up coming up with a process to fund ARDEC personnel to help and that's how it all started," said Fogg.
"After our first couple of exercises, we started to look at different technologies we could either use during the exercise or demonstrate for everyone in attendance," Fogg continued.
ARDEC works closely with DHS to determine candidate hosting agencies, participates in strategic planning sessions for scenario development, identify potential technologies to test and evaluate, and coordinates activities between agencies necessary to successfully manage and execute each exercise.
A key deliverable of each ASE is a comprehensive report that details the scenario and role players involved, assesses candidate technologies, and evaluates the performance of officers and first responders.
New Equipment Training Team
ARDEC New Equipment Team members Dietz Wortmann and Bob Tighe are responsible for providing real-time high definition video during the exercise for post-processing.
"We spend at least a week getting the cameras charged and ready to go," said Dietz Wortmann, audio visual production specialist, Enterprise and Systems Integration Center.
"We are usually there a day or two before the actual event. We coordinate and manage videography requirements across the participating agencies," added Wortmann.
During the first exercise, 21 on-person cameras were used and the number gradually increased to around 60 as the exercises become more complex. The team discovered that on-person cameras provide key insights into a first responder's situational awareness that are invaluable from a training and evaluation perspective.
Embedded timestamps help synchronize videos, which allows footage from several dozens of cameras and devices to be pieced together into a whole timeline for analysis. Each exercise generates approximately two terabytes of video, which is downloaded onto hard drives with quad splits for the police departments, first responders, and training evaluators.
Other crucial members of the NET Team that have an active role in these exercises include Mike Fol, John Mulhern, Bryan Miller, Billy Binikos, Gary Eilert, Kathleen Neillands and Justin Conklin.
ARDEC Target Behavioral Response Laboratory (TBRL)
TBRL members Gladstone Reid, John Riedener and Elizabeth Mezzacappa Ph.D., develop assessment metrics for the hosting agency based on their specific training requirements. They aim to measure the effectiveness of agency tactics, techniques and procedures and the candidate technologies used during the exercise.
TBRL uses "blue force trackers" on first responders to provide a command center with real-time information, including whereabouts. This data is captured and post-processed alongside the NET team's video as part of the after-action review with exercise dependent customized software and evaluation using behavioral coding software. From this data, the hosting agency can evaluate specific time-based measures, such as how long it took officers to neutralize a target from the initial call.
"Prior to exercises, TBRL installs a hardwired video camera and blue force tracking sensor network throughout the exercise site, which connects to television monitors inside observation areas and command centers," said Reid.
TBRL collects time-based measures that can be used for analysis and comparisons among teams in high fidelity operational settings. For example, they can analyze how long it takes for officers to neutralize target starting from the initial call.
This approach provides a data-driven method for participating agencies to identify any training short falls, and the necessary improvements for their response to these types of incidents.
It also allows agencies the opportunity to identify technologies that could potentially support their mission and counter terrorism/counter improvised explosive device programs.
All trainers and evaluators are interviewed to provide feedback about the technologies being evaluated and identify the success/failure response to active shooters.
Other crucial members of the team of researchers from ARDEC's TBRL include Robert DeMarco, Charles Sheridan, Kevin Tevis, Nasir Jaffery, and Gordon Cooke.
The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.