Homeland Security

Beltway Agencies' Terror Drill to Cover Six Sites Like Paris Attacks

A victim is evacuated after an attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris on Nov. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

WASHINGTON — Governments around the nation’s capital will test Wednesday their response to a terrorist attack on the scale of the November 2015 Paris attack, in which six different targets were struck by teams of gunmen and suicide bombers.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) said Monday that law enforcement and other first responders will take part in the “full-scale exercise” intended “to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack.”

Like the Paris attacks, the drill will cover six locations around the Beltway. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The COG said police, fire and EMS — with the help of actors volunteering for the drill — will stage operations in neighborhoods in the northeast and southeast quadrants of D.C., Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia.

Fairfax County said their operation will take place at the Lorton Reformatory, an abandoned 1910 prison and historic site north of Occoquan. “There is no reason for alarm if you observe increased public safety personnel in the area of any of the exercise activity,” the county said in an advisory.

Arlington County said their part of the drill would be “in the vicinity” of George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, which is near the busy Metro stop and dining area of Clarendon.

“Residents can expect to see an increase in public safety vehicles and law enforcement officers in the area,” the county said in a public advisory. “Those traveling near the vicinity of the George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School may hear noise originating from the training site but are reminded that this is a training exercise only.”

Prince George’s County simply said residents “who live in and drive around Bowie and Cheltenham will likely see an increased police presence throughout the day Wednesday as part of the exercise.”

Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG, said in a statement that agencies regularly train for terror attacks but want to “go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties.”

“However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment,” Boggs added.