U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Analysis of Communications Effectiveness for First Responders During TOPOFF 2000

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2000
78 pages
Exercise Top Officials (TOPOFF) 2000 was designed to assess the crisis and consequence management capability of the United States by presenting a challenging series of geographically dispersed terrorist threats and acts to Federal, State, and local agencies.
TOPOFF was a congressionally mandated, "no notice" national exercise that was conducted in May 2000. Live exercise play was conducted in two host cities (Denver, Colorado, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire). Each city was presented with a mock terrorism event involving a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) to test the response of agencies at the State and local levels. A technology assessment was conducted of the First Responder communications equipment used during TOPOFF. This assessment focused on exercise operations in Portsmouth. Because the WMD used in Portsmouth was a chemical weapon dispersed via an exploding vehicle, this venue provided the greatest level of operational stress for the First Responder communications equipment. The analysis methodology was based on a three-level hierarchy of measures to assess communications effectiveness--critical operational issues, measures of effectiveness, and measures of performance. Both fire and police departments felt a command post/communications vehicle, cellular phones, and laptop computers with reach-back capability were needed for a chemical terrorist event. Shortage of radio frequencies was cited by most respondents as a problem, and several suggested radio trunking as a possible solution. Deficiencies were also noted with respect to situation awareness, interoperability, and interagency communications. Analysis findings are tabulated in an appendix. Tables and figures

Date Published: August 1, 2000