Protests expected ahead of Urban Shield police training in Pleasanton

- Hundreds of police officers, trainers, evaluators and volunteers are headed to the Bay Area for the annual Urban Shield event.

It's a combination of training, competition and trade show, hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, and now in its tenth year.

But when first responders arrive Friday for the first day, they will be met by protestors.

"We believe that we need to de-militarize and de-fund policing," Mohamed Shehk, of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition.

Social justice organizations are calling on supporters to march and rally from 8am to noon Friday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

"Urban Shield is not actually about disaster response or emergency preparedness," Shehk told KTVU.

"It's about using those situations to further justify massive increases in military equipment, spending and technology."

Urban Shield's motto is "Intense Training for Intense Times."

36 swat teams from departments around the region, and as far away as Mexico and Taiwan, will participate.

Saturday and Sunday will offer non-stop scenarios, at dozens of sites, intended to push first responders to their limits.

Drills include active shooters in schools and high rises, attacks at hospitals and Amtrak, hostage situations and workplace violence.  

"It's happening across our nation on a regular basis, so that's what we're preparing for,"  Deputy Tya Modeste of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office tol KTVU.

"We're not preparing to mimic the military, we're preparing to be the best first responders that we can be for the people we serve and protect."

And Modeste notes, validation comes from other departments that have attended and offered feedback later.

"They say, 'When this happened in our jurisdiction, we felt we were ready, because we trained for this, and we credit some of that with participating in Urban Shield.'"

Since police tactics nationwide have come under scrutiny, Urban Shield has attracted protests, but they have been relatively small.

There has been more outreach this year, and organizers expect hundreds of people outside the fairgrounds.

Inside, an elaborate exposition will be set-up, with vendors offering the latest in police vehicles, weapons, and equipment.

"If 1,000 people show up, we would do what we do every day," said Deputy Modeste, "and we'll be prepared to deal with it and support their right to free speech." 

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