The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska recently provided its biological production course to law enforcement personnel and first responders in Los Angeles, California.
To expand their knowledge and improve their ability to quickly identify illicit biological weapons, the participants from the LA Police Department LA Fire Department, LA Port Authority and U.S. Postal Inspectors Office, designed, built and produced biological simulants using off-the-shelf hardware.
The training was requested by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Hazardous Materials Unit (HMU) and funded by the 2020 Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program. The HMU is an integral component of the LAPD counterterrorism response capability, specializing in both weapons of mass destruction and the identification of unknown materials or agents that may pose a threat. Unit members are highly-specialized and receive training and develop skills to identify potential biological pathogens, chemical-weapon agents and radiological materials.
NSRI’s 32-hour course consists of lectures on biological production and clandestine laboratory methods as well as several interactive, hands-on work on biological production processes to help participants gain vital knowledge about biological weapon production—how they are designed, how they are produced and critical sampling points.
Participants must design a production laboratory within a set budget and using only locally sourced materials. All participants follow the biological production process and are evaluated on the quantity and quality of their finished product of a bio simulant.
The course focuses on growth, concentration, drying and milling of a spore-forming bacteria with academic instruction to convey the process requirements and general considerations when designing and building biological production operations.
All participants ranked the course as excellent — 5 out of 5 points — in every portion, a pride point for the NSRI field operations and training team.
Specific feedback included:
- "The guided Montessori-style allows for deeper understanding."
- "This is one of the best classes I've taken, and I will use some of the teaching ideas in the classes I teach."
- "I have received lots of training in my career, and nothing has come close to this training. The lecture and practice applications provided a fun learning environment. Thank you for a wonderful learning experience."
"This type of training takes the first responders through each step in the production process so that if they were to respond to a clandestine lab they would be more familiar with the process and be better to process the incident," said Daniel Polanski, NSRI deputy director for field operations and training. "It is important that all first responders — military and civilian — get this type of in-depth, academically rigorous training to help them stay sharp and increase their confidence in themselves and their teams."
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 15 DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Read about our mission.