Responders train at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY
October 4, 2023

DHSES Hosts 150 Law Enforcement Officers from New York State and Beyond for Cutting-Edge Training at Annual Excelsior Challenge

DHSES Hosts 150 Law Enforcement Officers from New York State and Beyond for Cutting-Edge Training at Annual Excelsior Challenge
Exercise Held at New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oneida County Brings State’s Bomb Technicians, Explosive Detection Canine Teams, and Tactical Teams Together for Scenario-based Training
40 Different Law Enforcement Agencies Participating from Federal, State and Local Governments from Buffalo to Long Island, As Well as Vermont and New Jersey

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray today announced 150 members of law enforcement from across the state participated in the 7th Annual Excelsior Challenge at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. This year’s event will play host to the largest contingent of law enforcement specialties to-date, focused on training to respond to current and emerging threats. Participants include 43 bomb technicians from all 13 FBI-accredited New York State bomb squads, 42 explosive detection canine handlers and 67 tactical team operators, forming seven task forces to respond to seven core scenarios inspired by real-world events. The four-day exercise includes trainings hosted by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government, including the New York State Police; Amtrak Police Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; New York Police Department; Port Authority Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “As New York’s diverse threat landscape continues to evolve, we must ensure our first responders have access to the modern training that prepares them to deal with a vast range of public safety challenges. The Excelsior Challenge gives bomb squads, explosive detection canine teams, and tactical teams from New York and around the nation a unique opportunity to hone their communication and coordination skills through a battery of state-of-the-art scenarios.”

The Excelsior Challenge helps increase operational coordination, communication and integration between bomb squads, explosive detection canine teams and tactical teams. The exercise reinforces skills practiced during previous discipline-specific events such as Tactical Week, the U.S. Bomb Technician Association exercise, and Canine Week, all held earlier this year at the State Preparedness Training Center.

This year’s Excelsior Challenge utilized the support of expert instructors from 26 agencies. To help make the scenarios as real as possible, the exercise utilized more than 70 role players, including approximately 40 student role-players from the University at Albany College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. The exercise also received support from the Division’s Office of Counter Terrorism, Office of Emergency Management, and Office of Interoperable Emergency Communications.

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 $25.6 million in non-competitive funding to support New York State’s 12 local FBI-accredited bomb squads. The Division also has allocated $6.4 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 $15.3 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.

2023 Scenarios: Excelsior Challenge participants rotated through series of cutting-edge, contemporary scenarios including:

  • Hostage Situation in House of Worship: A scenario based on a complex hostage situation in a house of worship in Colleyville, Texas, in 2022.
  • Woodland Operations: This scenario focuses on the apprehension of criminal suspects in deeply wooded terrain like the recent search for an escaped prisoner in Pennsylvania.
  • Protection of an Open-Air Mass Gathering: A scenario led by experts from NYPD, the N.J. State Police, the Vermont State Police, Utica METRO SWAT, and the Port Authority Police Department.
  • Protection of Communities Targeted by Hate Crimes: A scenario based on a hate crime attack in a Colorado Springs nightclub in 2022.

The following law enforcement agencies will be participating and/or teaching throughout the Excelsior Challenge:

Federal Agencies

  • AMTRAK Police Department
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • United States Secret Service

Statewide Agencies

  • New York State Police
  • New Jersey State Police
  • Vermont State Police

Regional and Local Agencies

  • Albany Police Department
  • Buffalo Police Department
  • Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office
  • Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office
  • Colonie Police Department
  • Endicott Police Department
  • Erie County Sheriff's Office
  • Kingston Police Department
  • Massachusetts State Police
  • Monroe County Sheriff's Office
  • MTA Police Department
  • Nassau County Police Department
  • Nassau County Sheriff's Office
  • New Rochelle Police Department
  • NYPD Bomb Squad
  • NYPD Emergency Services Unit
  • NYPD Transit Bureau
  • NYS University Police - SUNY Morrisville
  • Oneida County Sheriff's Office
  • Onondaga County Sheriff's Office
  • Orange County Sheriff's Office
  • Otsego County Sheriff's Office
  • Peekskill Police Department
  • Port Authority Police Department
  • Poughkeepsie Police Department - City
  • Poughkeepsie Police Department - Town
  • Rochester Police Department
  • Rockland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Suffolk County Police Department
  • Syracuse Police Department
  • Troy Police Department
  • Ulster Police Department
  • Utica METRO SWAT
  • Utica Police Department
  • Warwick Police Department
  • Westchester County Police Department
  • White Plains Police Department

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 17th 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 Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination, and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, follow @NYSDHSES on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly known as Twitter) or visit