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.