Last summer the state of Texas was ablaze over concerns surrounding the Jade Helm military drills held across the state prompted some to speculate that the Federal government was preparing for either a local insurrection, secession planning contencies for the Lone Star state or even a "Texas takeover."
Similar confusion returned earlier this week when dozens of McLennan Community College students posed as unruly protesters as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency training program. This "first of its kind" three day exercise in Waco, Texas was overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, during which police officers from fifteen different departments took part in drills on how to deal with riots and conduct mass arrests."
Officers from the Waco Police Department, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, Killeen Police Department, Lorena Police Department, DeSoto Police Department and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, among others, participated in the three-day training program.
As Waco Tribune reports, citing training coordinator Jay Fonville, "this type of training has never been in Texas before."
This sparked questions: if it was "never held before" why is it being held now? Fonville's answer "we are here to protect people — protect protesters and protect law enforcement officers" adding that "this was very beneficial to get this kind of training here, especially in Central Texas, and for so many officers to have access to it."
Others chimed in: "Riots are hard to detain, and as little officers as they have they are probably going to be outnumbered most of the time. It’s vital that they get it correct the first time," Criminal Justice major Dylan Solis told KCEN-TV.
Area agencies sent 61 officers to the program at MCC’s Emergency Services Education Center for the course that started Monday and finished Wednesday, training coordinator Jay Fonville said.
Students acted as nonviolent protesters, and Lopez was one of several classmates who chanted, screamed and antagonized officers during the drills.
Fidencia Lopez, a student in MCC’s emergency medical technician program, posed as a protester throughout Wednesday’s demonstrations and said she gained valuable insight into how law enforcement officers are trained to operate in crowd-control scenarios.
“This makes it very real to see how protesters are getting taken out and that there might be some injury or even with law enforcement,” Lopez said.
Cops learned how to counter “domestic and civil disturbances” during the training, which was coordinated by the DHS’ Center for Domestic Preparedness, as well as “proper use of batons, mass-arrest procedures, and riot control formations."
But most curious was the organizational presence of the Department of Homeland Security: FEMA instructors from across the country directed officers on the public’s constitutional rights and the appropriate way to handle situations with multiple arrests and mobile field-force team methods.
The training is expected to be put into practice in "realistic situations," and more drills are being planned for the future.
Was the "first of its kind" training session a harbinger of things to come?
For now it is unclear, however as Paul Joseph Watson notes, "police departments across the country are buying riot gear in expectation of more Ferguson-style civil unrest sweeping the country." Maybe they know something.