I-Team: Metro Police Ready for Terrorists - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Metro Police Ready for Terrorists

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LAS VEGAS -- Security experts said Las Vegas will always be a tempting target, not only for terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai, India four years ago this month, but also for lone gunmen who want to cause maximum damage and the biggest possible media splash.

Las Vegas is an international dateline, is home to dozens of the world's largest hotels, and -- at any given time -- is packed with visitors.

Metro Police have quietly been preparing for a deadly assault. The strategy known as MAC-TAC is not only a new tactic, but a new mindset.

When two teenage boys went on a bloody rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. in 1999, the attack was still an anomaly, but these days, not so much. From the Sikh temple in Wisconsin earlier this year and the crazed suspect who turned a Colorado movie theater into a shooting gallery to the unhinged Arizona assailant who mowed down a crowd including U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Metro officers Bobby Chamberlin and Bert Hughes are instructors on the cutting edge of a new police strategy that began in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and is now the model for the rest of the country.

"It seems like you can't even turn on the TV anymore without hearing an episode of an active shooter or a mass shooting happening," Chamberlin said.

Special gear and special training are being provided -- not just to heavy-duty units like SWAT -- but to every officer.

"We tried to push this program to the patrol guys because they are the first ones there on the scene," Hughes said.

Metro has factored in such situations as snipers opening firing from atop the Stratosphere tower or gunmen commandeering city hall or a Mumbai-type team cutting loose with weapons and explosives on the Las Vegas Strip on a Saturday night.

Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody studied the Mumbai assault and said every one of the factors that made Mumbai a tempting target is present in Las Vegas. The video of the killers going from room to room to murder guests has replayed in his mind many times, but with a Las Vegas setting.

"They want to do as much damage as they can, make it as protracted as it can be, and make as much attention internationally as they possibly can," Moody said. "This is a great place to do it."

Metro's chief MAC-TAC trainer, Sgt. Joe Martin, said he knows that it wouldn't take a full Mumbai-style assault to lay waste to the Strip. A single gunman with a devious plan can cause a lot of damage.

"Not only did it hit me that but could happen here, at the time I was surprised that it hasn't happened here," Martin said. "When we first started this program, it was the idea, this will never happen here. Well, it's happened everywhere else. Any given day, that could be us."

Metro requires every officer to undergo random MAC-TAC tests twice a year but it also stages elaborate, realistic role-playing scenarios. At a scenario being played out at Meadows Mall, bad guys run amok in the mall, killing people at random..

Alarms blare, smoke bellows, victims scream and bleed.

Cameras record every move for later evaluation as officers move in, hunt down the assailants and take them out.

Metro has developed multiple war game-type scenarios for nearly every major hotel, government building or other potential target in the Las Vegas valley. And the program requires an active partnership with firefighters and other first responders. The MAC-TAC training can never predict everything a gunman or terrorist might cook up, but the program is meant to change officers' mindset, avoid strategic traps that might be laid by the bad guys and react to whatever awaits.

"We train our officers in critical decision-making so as these events come towards them, they can make educated and tactical decisions how to overcome whatever is thrown at them," Martin said.

Now that Metro and its partner agencies have a plan in place, they want the world to know.

"If there is a group out there and thinks about doing something like this in Las Vegas, I think it's good for them to know that they can expect to see a different type of response here than they might encounter somewhere else," Moody said.

Could a Mumbai-style group get into the United States and acquire the weaponry to launch an attack? Metro officials told the I-Team that in light of the porous nature of the national borders over the past decade, it is entirely possible that sleeper cells are already in the country somewhere. The best we can do is to stay alert, hope the day never comes, but to be ready if it does.

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