Several speakers at last week's Pleasanton City Council meeting raised objections to the city hosting Urban Shield, a regional preparedness training program for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services.

The event will be held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton over a four-day period starting Friday, September 11.

Those speaking described Urban Shield as a pro-war, $1 million trade show and training exercise funded by the federal government. It is expected that anti-war protestors will be on hand.

According to its website, the overarching goals of Urban Shield include striving for the capability to present a multi-layered training exercise to enhance the skills and abilities of regional first responders, as well as those responsible for coordinating and managing large scale events.

Further, Urban Shield challenges the skills, knowledge and abilities of all who participate. It not only improves regional disaster response capabilities, but provides a platform for national and international first responders, as well as the private sector, to work efficiently and effectively together when critical incidents occur.

The agenda includes analyzing regional catastrophic plans, bomb prevention, multi-jurisdictional security planning, nuclear threat devices and information on how easily they might be smuggled into the U.S., and large-scale event planning, among other activities, including a SWAT team competition.

Three speakers addressed the council, including Fred Norman of Pleasanton. He is an anti-war activist. Norman urged the council not to have the local police participate in the SWAT competition. He described Urban Shield as an effort to militarize local police and sheriff by offering training and weapons. What once were well trained law enforcement personnel are turned into military-style occupation forces.

Norman continued, "Through Urban Shield, agencies acquire armored vehicles and military style weapons and gear. I have always appreciated the Pleasanton Police. I have no complaints. However, I believe it is in the city's best interest that we continue to have a department we respect and not develop one we fear."

Another speaker described the event as an opportunity for the defense industry contractors to market new weapons.