Month: January 2024

Enhancing Preparedness Through Innovative Training: Montgomery County Police Department Supervisor’s In-Service Tabletop Series

In a proactive approach to bolster the preparedness capabilities of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) collaborated with MCPD representatives to develop and conduct a series of eight Incident Command System (ICS) refresher training sessions and tabletop exercises (TTXs) from July to October 2023. These sessions, an integral component of the Supervisor’s Annual In-Service training, aimed to evaluate and enhance the ability of MCPD supervisors to employ ICS principles, during the first 30 minutes of a critical incident.

The success of these training sessions was rooted in meticulous planning by a collaborative team consisting of MDERS and MCPD personnel. To ensure the authenticity and effectiveness of these exercises, MCPD representatives selected as subject matter experts (SMEs) participated in the planning and facilitation process. MDERS leveraged the knowledge and experience of MCPD representatives to develop two active assailant scenarios, intentionally designed to escalate in complexity. The development of the master scenario events list (MSEL) drew upon MCPD’s directives, policies, and procedures, including the Active Assailant Emergency Response Protocol, ensuring alignment with real-world scenarios.

The planning team, meeting consistently throughout the spring and summer of 2023, crafted a comprehensive program that included a thirty-minute ICS refresher training followed by a two-and-a-half-hour tabletop exercise. Prior to the first delivery, the planning team, accompanied by additional MDERS and MCPD Training Academy staff, conducted a thorough dry run of the TTX scenarios. This allowed for the identification of any pitfalls in the scenarios or inject delivery, ensuring a seamless and realistic experience for participants.

All eight training sessions took place at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) in Gaithersburg, MD. The training series was scheduled to accommodate the shift-work schedules of the 149 participants. MCPD and MDERS intentionally created an open, low stress, no fault environment to encourage meaningful discussions among facilitators and players. Participants were equipped with situation manual (SitMan) slick sheets, props, aerial maps, floorplans, easels, markers, notepads, and writing utensils, which helped foster a comprehensive and immersive learning experience.

The collaborative efforts between MDERS and MCPD in executing these TTXs exemplify a commitment to enhancing the capabilities of law enforcement supervisors, at the sergeant level, in managing incidents effectively. The comprehensive planning, incorporation of subject matter experts, and emphasis on realistic scenarios contribute to a successful training initiative that ensures the preparedness of MCPD supervisors in the face of critical incidents within Montgomery County.

Impacts of AI on Public Safety and the Homeland Security Enterprise | Benefits

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to revolutionize the world. For as many threats as AI poses, it has the potential to create just as many benefits. This article is the third and final in a three-part series on artificial intelligence from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) that will explore a few beneficial applications of AI.

Damage Assessments: After Hurricane Ian devastated Florida in 2022, FEMA utilized a machine learning model from aerial imagery to review and assess the magnitude of structural damage to buildings. The AI platform was taught to analyze terrain, compare historical and recent images, and classify damage. This resulted in a reduction of the structures needing review to 77,000 from over a million initially identified as damaged (DHS, 2023). Utilizing AI for damage assessments would ensure a more effective allocation of resources post-disaster.

Cybersecurity: AI can be utilized to detect and even prevent cyber threats to critical infrastructure. Machine learning models can identify abnormal activity and flag it. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed the Cyber Sentry program to assist their threat-hunting analysts in monitoring critical infrastructure networks in the U.S. CISA is also utilizing AI to reverse engineer malware, ensuring the U.S. stays up to date on techniques utilized by threat actors and how to counter them (DHS, 2023).

911 Centers: 911 Call Center usage of AI systems has substantially increased in the U.S. AI is being used for a multitude of purposes in these centers to ensure faster response times and more accurate use of emergency resources. AI has also been used to have live, two-way translation for call takers and callers. Callers who do not speak English often face delays in service due to the need to connect with translation services. Additionally, 911 call centers often field non-emergency calls in addition to their 911 duties. Numerous jurisdictions across the U.S.  utilize AI services that answer non-emergency calls and connect callers with the right resources, allowing trained dispatchers to stay available to take emergency calls (Hernandez, 2023).

Advances in AI have the ability to positively contribute to public safety and homeland security. AI can potentially pose significant risks and threats to the world, but it can also enable more efficient, proactive, and responsive solutions to problems.


Hernandez, A. (2023, October 19).  AI moves into overworked 911 centers.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2023). Artificial Intelligence Use Case Inventory. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.