Live explosions, simulated motorcade attacks, and Miami Marlins shortstop Miggy Rojas were all part of week-long dignitary protection training in Miami, Fla., Nov. 8-12. Hosted by the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Miami Field Office, the training included 24 law enforcement partners from the Miami-Dade and City of Miami Police Departments, as well as the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
This is the first time that DSS has hosted dignitary protection training for law enforcement agencies in South Florida. The unique training provided partners with the skills to protect local VIPs and assist DSS with protective security details when diplomats and other foreign dignitaries visit South Florida.
“This training is part of our overall mission to protect the Department of State’s people, facilities, and information,” said DSS Miami Field Office Special Agent in Charge Pete Kapoukakis. “DSS trains state and local law enforcement to build and strengthen the partnerships we frequently rely on to assist with domestic protective operations.”
Training participants learned and practiced the basics of organizing a protective detail as well as the defensive tactics and evasive driving techniques used by DSS and its law enforcement partners to protect dignitaries in the United States and around the world.
“If a motorcade transporting a dignitary comes under attack while driving on the Florida Turnpike, it is important for the Miami-Dade Police Department to know how our DSS colleagues will react and how we can assimilate it as part of our protocols,” said Lt. Luis Sierra, Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team.
DSS normally conducts dignitary protection training as part of the Law Enforcement Officer Training Program at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) near Blackstone, Virginia. However, sending officers to FASTC is a cost that many police departments cannot incur, so DSS brings this training directly to state and local law enforcement partners with the assistance of special agents at field offices around the country.
“In June 2021, the DSS Boston Field Office hosted similar dignitary protection training for law enforcement partners in New England,” said Miami Training Lead Chad Abate. “Thanks to the Miami Field Office and my fellow FASTC instructors, we had another successful round of training in Miami this November.”
The dignitary protection training took place at the Miami-Dade Public Safety Training Institute, and participants applied what they learned in a final exercise involving two motorcades making stops at Miami venues including the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Little Havana neighborhood, Bayside Marketplace, and Miami Marlins LoanDepot Park. One of the role-playing dignitaries was none other than Miami Marlins shortstop Miggy Rojas, who took his role seriously while enjoying the added protection and attention from fans (Check out @statedeptdss on Instagram to see what Rojas had to say about the training).
NBC6, CBS4, and the Miami Herald covered this instrumental training that keeps dignitaries who visit South Florida safe. Click on the images below and view the stories in Google Chrome.