BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A DMR officer pulls up to do a safety check on a boat Tuesday in the Biloxi Back Bay. When he steps aboard, the officer is taken hostage. Luckily, this is only a drill.
"From a Homeland Security standpoint, the Mississippi Sound is wide open and is a very, very real threat," DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said.
Just like on land, anything can happen on the water and law enforcement agencies are not taking that lightly. During the drill, law enforcement agents believe the boat holding the hostage is used to smuggle drugs.
A command post is set up on one boat. Those gathered there are able to watch from afar and stay up to date on all the negotiations via the radio. A swat team is on another boat sitting idle waiting for instructions from negotiators talking with the bad guys.
After a few hours, the swat team moves toward the boat where the hostage is being held. Holding guns a police officer yells, "Blue shirt, step out with your hands. Let me see your hands. One man steps out. Mike Hines is with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, but in the drill he's playing one of the bad guys.
"You presented yourself as genuinely concerned, not only about the victims on the boat, but you sold yourselves well to me as genuinely concerned about my well being and how this was going to come out," Hines said to those involved in the mock drill.
After the two bad guys come out of the boat, officers board the boat and are able to free the hostage. Everyone is safe.
"I thought it was outstanding training," FBI Crisis Negotiation Coordinator Jeff Artis said. "Well planned, no hiccups at all, which is unusual for training."
Chief Davis agreed, "There is no way one agency can respond to an event like that and get it resolved the way it was resolved today. It takes all of us working together. So my hats off to you; thank you so much."
Law enforcement officials say this is only the first of many drills they hope to do together to better prepare themselves for any threat on the water.
The DMR, FBI, Coast Guard, Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Keesler Hostage Negotiation Team, Biloxi Police Department, Gulfport Police Department, Pascagoula Police Department and Swat Team, along with Wiggins Police Department all took part in the water drill.