As North Texas Preps for Massive Counter-Terrorism Drill, Protestors Decry Police Militarization

Categories: Crime, News

This weekend, heavily armored police, SWAT teams, bomb squads, and paramedics will descend upon 20 sites in North Texas--Irving's Stipes Elementary, Tarrant County College's Northwest Campus, Baylor hospital in Dallas, and some barns in Duncanville among them--for the region's inaugural Urban Shield training exercise.

It's funded by the Department of Homeland Security, run by a private contractor, the Cytel Group, and organized locally by the North Central Council of Governments. It is, for all intents and purposes, a gigantic counter-terrorism drill.

Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson, describing the event to the Arlington City Council on Tuesday night, described it as "an exercise in preparedness, preparedness for man-made and natural emergencies" aimed at ensuring that the public stays safe. "That's all this is."

Richland Hills police spokesman Tye Bell echoed those sentiments to The Dallas Morning News. "To me, it's a comforting thought to know that help is out there if and when you need it."

Not everyone is quite so sanguine about SWAT teams parading through North Texas, even if it is just pretend.

"You're bringing them here to go through our homes like they did in Boston, and I'm really concerned over that," Douglas Bell, a 33-year-old military veteran told the Arlington City Council. "What happened in Boston won't be allowed here by the population...The way they went through people's homes, the way they pointed weapons through people's windows...I do not think that that should be allowed in our city."

See also: Dallas County Now Has Its Very Own Bulletproof, "Mine-Protected" Military SUV

Boston had run two Urban Shield in the two years leading up to this spring's marathon bombing that have been credited with helping prepare first responders.

Bell was one of about two dozen people who showed up at Arlington City Hall this week to oppose Urban Shield, which they decried as the "militarization of our police force." Jacob Cordova, another veteran who spoke at the meeting, also raised the specter of the Boston.

"Call it what you want but when you are locked down, not allowed to leave your homes, work, or go to school while militarized units of police roll down your streets pointing rifles in your faces like you're in Iraq or Afghanistan, coming into your homes without warrants and searching you, that is martial law," he said.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the exercise will be protested, much like the recent Urban Shield operation in Oakland.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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Freedom and liberty should override safety in a free society. The fear of martisl law or defacto law is valid today.

bmarvel topcommenter

When did this unholy alliance between private enterprise and law enforcement start? Does anybody here recall voting for the Cytel Group?


People always complain about the police state and then wonder where is a cop when the caca impacts the ceiling fan. 


Will Vic Mackey be there? How about the rest of the strikeforce?


Well, I know several police officers who have a problem with the militarization of the police. But, they see themselves more as peace officers than law enforcement. There is a big difference.


Just an excuse for the steroid addled yahoos to masturbate with their toys.

Wonder where the SD MRAP will show? With luck it will break down and burn.


Well, Texas does have lots of tea party types with guns. The place could blow any minute, and when that happens you'll be glad the cops have tanks.


@jamessavik Your argument doesn't make sense, read Gunter's post again. Furthermore, I'll be the last one to call the cops when the sh*t hits the fan. They aren't heroes, they are the state's enforcers, much like the mafia with their enforcers. But go ahead and keep lickin those boots james.


@jamessavik To be fair, those are kind of different issues. Community policing is a very different thing than SWAT or riot police. The former is their usual job, the latter is only necessary once in a blue moon and is not "cop on the corner" type stuff. If you get carjacked or mugged, you don't call in the SWAT team. People just want a visible police presence as it clearly deters crime to just have uniformed officers around.

I personally have no issue with this drill, but I can see why some folks do. It is unsettling to see what amounts to martial law even if it just a drill.


@Tim.Covington "There is a big difference."  

To whom?  Your friends - the good cops?  To all cops? 

Also, when?  Now?   In the past?  In the future?

holmantx topcommenter


Colonel "Madman" Maddox: Identify yourself! 

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: Captain Wild Bill Kelso, United States Army Air Corps. Where the hell am I? 

Colonel "Madman" Maddox: Barstow. Where are you coming from? 

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: San Francisco... been chasing a Jap squadron for a day and a half. I lost 'em somewhere over Fresno. 

Telephone Operator: I'm from Moline, Illinois. 

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: Tough Shit.


@mcdallas @Tim.Covington A peace officer is more concerned about maintaining the peace and health of the community. Law enforcement is the Judge Dredd "I Am The Law!" type. As an example I've seen, a person walking drunk in public, but not really causing any problems:

Peace officer will check on them and see to it they get somewhere safe.

A law enforcement officer will arrest them for being drunk in public. 

The difference is a matter of attitude about what they see as their job and the relationship they should have with the general public.


@Tim.Covington @mcdallas Are you serious? That is one of the worst examples I have ever heard. Im a Peace Officer. Let me run this little story past you. The drunk guy you "check" on comes back after you found "somewhere safe" for him and gets in his car, drives off and kills a family of four. Could be your family. Think about it. Try a better example next time.

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