Kansas National Guard, law enforcement agencies hold hazardous material exercise in downtown Topeka

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Law enforcement officers filled the street next to the Capitol in Downtown Topeka on Thursday, but they weren’t responding to an emergency.

The Kansas National Guard’s Civil Support Team put on an training and acted as if a suspicious powder was found in the mail at the Docking State Office Building.

The civil support team consists of 22 members and can be called in across the state to help local officials with accidental hazards or the intentional use of a weapon of mass destruction.

“To help identify the substance more precisely, we have the ability to safely enter those environments, and then also do some analytical work with our equipment, to do that in a safe manner,” said Todd Loughney, commander of the team.

Members of Capitol Police, the local fire department and hazmat team, the State Fire Marshal’s office and federal officials joined the team to prepare for the exercise of the potentially deadly scenario.

“I think we need to do more of this kind of training, it benefits us in the long run as well as the citizens of Kansas,” said Kansas Highway Patrol Captain Amber Harrington, who served as the incident commander during the training.

“We can’t silo information, we’ve got to be able to share, work together, so this was pretty eye opening to find out what all different agencies could offer,” she said.

Loughney agreed that it is beneficial to everyone participating.

“It allows us to better understand their capabilities, they get a better understanding of ours,” Loughney said.

The Kansas National Guard members said practicing now will benefit them and anyone who could be in danger in the future.

“When we can get a venue like this, it really allows us to train like we would want to, working with our inter-agency partners, and really honing our craft and taking our training to the next level,” said Captain Colin Randolph in the Kansas National Guard.

Officials said doing the exercise on the Capitol complex is needed because they realize that’s where a real life situation could occur.

“I think it is important. It is the state Capitol and it is a high target, especially when you got dignitaries in and out there all the time,” Harrington said. “Since we’re housed right there at the Docking State Office Building, I think it’s a great location for it.”

This isn’t the only exercise the civil support team does, it trains with various law enforcement agencies across the state from Garden City to Kansas City.

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