If you’re driving by the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach on Monday and notice a lot of commotion, such as protesters, hundreds of law enforcement personnel, and maybe even what appears to be a bus being hijacked, fear not.
It’s only an exercise. South Florida’s Regional Domestic Security Task Force Operation Guardian plans to conduct a full day of training, safety and security exercises at the port from 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Maritime Transportation Security Act requires every seaport to conduct full-scale security exercises every 18 months and drills once every 90 days.
By conducting Operation Guardian, the port strengthens its resolve in upholding its mission to prevent, deter, respond and recover from acts of terror or aggression, while giving law enforcement the opportunity for complex and rigorous missions, port officials said.
The eight agencies participating are the Department of Homeland Security, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Riviera Beach Police Department, West Palm Beach Police Department, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami Police Department.
“Operation Guardian is a splendid example of eight agencies working alongside each other to enhance the security of our port,” said Manuel Almira, the port’s executive director. “These exercises will reflect the best possible training effort to secure our port facilities.”
In addition to law enforcement personnel, 120 actors will be on-site to assist in executing the various scenarios. The agencies will conduct hostage situations and active shooter sequences in the Maritime Office Building.
Actors depicting a protest will be staged in front of the Maritime Office Complex along the cruise terminal entrance. Additional training scenes, such as an assault on a vessel and a hijacking of a city bus, are also planned.
Port Commissioner Katherine Waldron has volunteered to pose as a hostage during one of the assault exercises in the Marine Office Building.
The primary staging area for specialty vehicles will be the Jim Barry Light Harbor Park, 1800 Broadway, Riviera Beach. Aircraft and boats are also expected.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s ship, Grand celebration, will not be docked at the port during the exercises on Monday.