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Many people on social media websites said they thought the exercise was an actual incident.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A counterterrorism exercise Wednesday sparked concern among drivers and caused traffic delays in Roanoke before officials called off the practice.
The training, conducted near Fishburn Park on Brambleton Avenue in southwest Roanoke, was a test by federal authorities of new techniques to detect radiation learned by state agents and officials, according to Sgt. W.P. Marks, a supervisor with the Virginia State Police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit.
State police spokesman Sgt. Rob Carpentieri said the training was conducted in conjunction with the federal Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Virginia Department of Health.
The exercise involved agents driving in traffic in unmarked vehicles whom trainees had to locate using portable radiation detection devices, Carpentieri said. The trainees didn’t know which cars they were looking for, so it may have appeared that members of the public were being searched, he said.
Many on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook thought the exercise was a real incident.
Robert Clemo, 25, said officials stopped his Lexus IS 250 and walked around it with a handheld scanner. He said a traffic backup on Brambleton Avenue from the activity caused him to be about 30 minutes late to his job at Kroger.
Carpentieri said he wasn’t aware of any cars being stopped, “just slowed.” Once supervisors were made aware of the traffic backup, the exercise was called off, he said.
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