Responders train at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY
October 4, 2022

DHSES Holds 2022 Excelsior Challenge

DHSES Holds 2022 Excelsior Challenge
Annual Exercise at State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany Brings State’s Bomb Technicians, Explosive Detection Canine Teams, and Tactical Teams Together in Reality-Based Training Environment
Nearly 150 Law Enforcement Personnel from Across New York State in Oneida County This Week Taking Part in Training to Address Current Threat Landscape

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today announced nearly 150 law enforcement professionals from across the state and Canada are taking part in cutting-edge training to address active threat scenarios at this week’s Excelsior Challenge, hosted by the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. In its sixth year of operation, the 2022 Excelsior Challenge has the largest contingent of law enforcement specialty team members to ever participate in the exercise, including 48 bomb technicians from all 13 FBI-accredited New York State bomb squads, 41 explosive detection canine handlers and 53 tactical team operators.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “New York faces one of the nation’s most diverse threat landscapes, making it critical our first responders have the training necessary for grappling with a wide array of public safety challenges. Through the Excelsior Challenge, bomb squads, explosive detection canine teams, and tactical teams from around the state will all complete a battery of state-of-the-art scenarios to test and improve their collective coordination, communication, and integration with one another.”

Each year, the Excelsior Challenge reinforces skills practiced during previous discipline-specific events held at the State Preparedness Training Center, such as Tactical Week, the Raven’s Challenge and Canine Week. Throughout the Challenge, teams will respond to complex threat situations in a variety of scenarios ranging from active shooters in indoor facilities to hostage situations and explosive threats at outdoor mass gathering events. This year’s Challenge also includes a skills lane for bomb squad and tactical operators where they will test new technology provided by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). For the first time ever in New York State, bomb technicians and tactical operators will test ‘exoskeleton’ technologies designed to enhance their response capabilities. These teams will also utilize their robotics technology in various lanes developed by NIST, and test drone technology.

This year’s Excelsior Challenge involved the support of nearly 50 instructors from agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration, and the New York State Police. To help make the scenarios as real as possible, the exercises utilize student role players from the University at Albany College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. The exercise also receives support from DHSES’ Office of Counter Terrorism, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Office of Emergency Management, and Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications.

Agencies participating in the 2022 Excelsior Challenge include:

  1. Albany Police Department
  2. Amtrak Police Department
  3. Buffalo Police Department
  4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  5. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office
  6. City of Poughkeepsie Police Department
  7. Colonie Police Department
  8. DHS Science and Technology
  9. Endicott Police Department
  10. Erie County Sheriff's Office
  11. Federal Bureau of Investigation
  12. Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
  13. Livingston County Sheriff's Office
  14. Massachusetts State Police
  15. Metro Vancouver Transit Police (Canada)
  16. Monroe County Sheriff's Office
  17. MTA Police Department
  18. Nassau County Police Department
  19. Nassau County Sheriff's Office
  20. National Institute of Standards and Technology
  21. New Rochelle Police Department
  22. New York State Police
  23. NYPD Bomb Squad
  24. NYPD Transit Bureau
  25. NYPD, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force
  26. New Jersey State Police
  27. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Law Enforcement
  28. NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
  29. NYS University Police
  30. Oneida County Sheriff's Office
  31. Onondaga County Sheriff's Office
  32. Orange County Sheriff's Office
  33. Peekskill Police Department
  34. Peel Regional Police Department (Ontario, Canada)
  35. Rochester Police Department
  36. Rockland County Sheriff's Office
  37. Saugerties Police Department
  38. Stamford Police Department (Connecticut)
  39. Steuben County Sheriff's Office
  40. Suffolk County Police Department
  41. Syracuse Police Department
  42. Town of Greece Police Department
  43. Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department
  44. Town of Warwick Police Department
  45. Transportation Security Administration
  46. Troy Police Department
  47. Utica Metro SWAT
  48. Utica Police Department
  49. Westchester County Police Department
  50. White Plains Police Department
  51. 1108th EOD Unit, NY Air National Guard (NYARNG)

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has a long history of providing federal Homeland Security grant funds to support the state’s specialty law enforcement teams. Since 2006, the Division has allocated $23.6 million in non-competitive funding to support New York State’s 12 local FBI-accredited bomb squads. The Division also has allocated $5.75 million in competitive grant funding to support New York State’s DCJS-certified explosive detection canine teams since 2009. The state’s DCJS-certified tactical teams have received $14.2 million in competitive grant funding since 2013. A key objective of these critical grant programs includes the interoperability among law enforcement specialty teams during response operations. The hands-on training opportunities provided by the Excelsior Challenge, Canine Week and Tactical Week, give teams a chance to practice their joint response efforts.

About the State Preparedness Training Center

The State Preparedness Training Center operated by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, affords state, local, and federal agencies a complex of training venues to conduct the entire spectrum of training. From classroom lectures and discussions to reality- and high-performance scenario-based training, the SPTC offers opportunities for dynamic emergency first responder training. The SPTC offers agencies realistic training environments such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Now in its 13th year of operation, the SPTC annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and patrol officer survival.

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, find DHSES on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and at