Training Exercise with NNPD Tests Response

  • Exercise Response vehicles in SSC parking lot, including a Top Guard truck nad two NNPD patrol vehicles
  • Todd Kujawa pretending to be an aggressor for the exercise at the front doors of the SSC
  • Two NNPD officers approach
  • Two NNPD officers speak to an exercise participant through a "locked" door
  • Lt. Cupp (in red, left), speaks with Brian Hanlon and NNPD officers about the exercise

A recent joint exercise offered the opportunity
to test on-site security response

For decades, an unarmed security force at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has kept the lab campus reasonably secure. But how effective would that force be when challenged with an active shooter or other assailant intent on causing harm? That was the question on everyone’s mind in an on-site training exercise carried out jointly with the Newport News Police Department on Sept. 14.

Focused on the northern edge of the lab campus, the exercise offered three different scenarios. In each scenario, an individual has entered the Support Service Center and is actively threatening staff members inside. 

“The purpose was to exercise unarmed security staff and NNPD first responders using several security threat scenarios,” said Brian Hanlon, Jefferson Lab’s Security Manager. “We wanted to assess interagency communications and test security staff observation, reporting and response protocols to identify any improvements needed in our current procedures.” 

In advance of the start of the exercise, NNPD training representatives met with Hanlon, Shauna Canella and Mike Lewellen, Jefferson Lab’s security contract technical representative staff, to carefully review each scenario and fine-tune the details considering the building layout. Three other staff members in Jefferson Lab’s Facilities Management and Logistics division - Mark Loewus, Todd Kujawa and Joe Proctor - served as actors for the exercise, representing aggressors or victims.

As each scenario began, participating Top Guard security staff were alerted to the scenario and began their response. Also for each scenario, on-duty NNPD officers were summoned to participate by their dispatch. Once they were briefed on the nature of the exercise and given the same basic information that would likely have been provided in a real situation, they, too, began their response.

Observers (wearing safety vests) noted how each scenario was handled by the participating security staff and police officers, and immediately following the conclusion of the scenario, the teams received feedback.

“Being able to train together in a live environment allows us all to be better prepared if an emergency were to ever arise. Our personnel become more familiar with each other and continue to learn from each other,” said Lt. Randolph C. Cupp, NNPD.

Hanlon reiterates that although many lab staff members continue to work from home, there is also a large contingent of staff who report to the lab for work every day. Further, exercising interagency communications, security staff response and written protocols ensures the lab security program continuously improves and is prepared to respond in the best way possible should a threatening situation occur.

“We have plans in place for these types of scenarios, and we review them each year. But you don’t know how well those plans will serve in a situation unless you exercise them,” Hanlon said.

By Kandice Carter, Jefferson Lab Communications Office