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Task force holds river counterterrorism drill

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BATON ROUGE- The Joint Task Force 7 held a counterterrorism drill on the Mississippi River to test their inter-agency skills, while neutralizing a simulated terrorist threat.

The drill had sheriff's deputies from seven different agencies working together to find a mock bomb strapped to a pillar on the Mississippi River Bridge.

"We've cross-trained our people to work as a combined unit, where we can send our teams to any facility along our river corridor and once we arrive there we can work as a single unit," said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.

The task force was formed to help secure maritime investments along the Mississippi River. The cooperation between the East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Ascension Sheriff's offices along with help from Livingston Parish worked to secure the river during the drill.

"That spirit of cooperation that exists in Louisiana is very uncommon for the rest of the country,so JTF7 is a breath of fresh air, I know talking to some of the national evaluators with homeland security that we have that spirit of cooperation that doesn't exist every where else," said Sheriff Bud Torres from Pointe Coupee, who heads the task force.

The group works in conjunction with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and is funded through the various Sheriff's Offices and a $6 million homeland security grant.

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