Scheduled for Thursday and Friday, federal, state, local and Canadian law enforcement partners will be brought together in a multi-agency exercise designed to prepare for and prevent cross-border terrorist and criminal activity on the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
There are no known threats against the area, but boaters may notice increased assets of law enforcement on the water.
Organized by The Monroe County Emergency Management Office, the multi-jurisdictional exercise will be sponsored by The Department of Homeland Security. The exercise will involve the response coordination of a possible waterborne threat in Lake Ontario and will include activities in Buffalo, Niagara, Oswego, and Rochester.
“This drill exemplifies the long-standing relationships that exist among our local, State, Federal, and International partners,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. “Monroe County is home to some of the best trained and best equipped first-responders in the nation. While we certainly hope this scenario never becomes a reality, we can rest assured knowing that our local first-responders are prepared to protect our families, friends, and neighbors in the unfortunate event it does.”
This scenario calls for a multi-agency response based on intelligence gathered from U.S. and Canadian officials.
“The Great Lakes are a shared bi-national treasure, and threats on either side of the border impact both countries,” said Rear Adm. Fred Midgette, Commander of the Coast Guard 9th District.
“U.S. and Canadian forces work seamlessly to protect life and the environment on the Great Lakes, so bi-national security is an important collaboration, too. The objective of the exercise is to protect the region in collaboration with our Canadian partners, and learn invaluable lessons about defense and how to leverage each other’s efforts for the benefit of all.”
“This exercise a great example of how our two countries’ law enforcement agencies work together to stop criminals from exploiting our shared border,” said Superintendent Robert Kempf, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
A variety of security challenges require collaboration and partnership among the participating governing agencies on both sides of the border.
“Not only does this exercise give us an opportunity to integrate operations with our state and local partners, it also is a useful opportunity to work alongside the agencies in the Department of Homeland Security,” said Dan Hiebert, Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, Buffalo Sector Border Patrol.
“The U.S. and Canada are significant trading partners and it’s critical that we can ensure an unimpeded flow of legal goods and commerce across our shared secure border.”
Participating agencies include: National Exercise Division, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office DHS, Radiological Assistance Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Coast Guard & CG Auxiliary, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Border Patrol, Marine Security Operation Centres (Canada), Marine Security Enforcement Team (Canada), 2nd Civil Support Team NY, New York Naval Militia, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, New York State Intelligence Center, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Monroe County, Oswego County Emergency Management Office and Fire Coordinator's Office, Erie County Public Safety, Niagara County, and NYS Department of Health.