Symposium at OCC Helps First Responders Gain Fresh Insight into Growing Domestic Terrorism

With new and emerging domestic terrorism threats becoming more sophisticated, first responders need to be at the forefront of detecting and reacting to these threats to keep our communities safe.

Nearly 200 first responders and public safety officials throughout Michigan were the focus of the “Protect the Castle” homeland security symposium hosted by Oakland Community College (OCC) Oct. 10 and 11 at its Combined Regional Emergency Services Training (CREST) facility on the Auburn Hills campus.  This is the third annual symposium on domestic terrorism held at OCC.   

Homeland Security Attending the two-day event were representatives from 50 local, state and national agencies. They included police, fire and EMS departments; the Michigan State Police; the FBI; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Customs and Border Patrol; and military personnel.

Domestic terrorism topics covered during the two-day event included: Right, Left and Incels: Contemporary Violent Extremism; Air Domain Awareness; Pathway to Violence; Customs and Border Patrol and the Local Environment; Bioterrorism; Sikh Temple Massacre; Dealing with Seattle’s Rise in Radicalism; and the OSU Terror Attack. 

David Ceci, OCC’s dean of public services and director of law enforcement training, said the symposium helps to create a more cooperative approach for first responders throughout Michigan. 

“It is vital for all the local, state and national public safety organizations to work together to combat the growing homeland security and terrorism threats we face, and this conference plays an important role in increasing the communications between all the various agencies to help us better protect the community,” Ceci said. 

The symposium was organized by Ken Aud, OCC department chair, public services and criminal justice and Ken Van Sparrentak, a professor of homeland security and instructor at OCC’s Advanced Police Academy. Van Sparrentak said that this year’s two-day program focused more on case studies of mass attack incidents to better prepare local first responders, and Aud said it helps prepare first responders to continually respond to new and emerging threats.

“We must keep pace by continually assessing potential targets and actively engage new partners to combat the threat, as we cannot do it alone," Aud said.

OCC’s event partners for this year’s symposium included the CIA, FBI, Oakland County Homeland Security and the Southfield Police Department.

The event venue — OCC’s Combined Regional Emergency Services Training facility, or CREST — offers public and private emergency responders and military personnel the most current and progressive training available, using a “city” built specifically to train emergency responders. 

About OCC

With multi campus system in Oakland County, OCC is Michigan’s number one transfer institution, offering nearly 100 excellent degrees and certificates. The College empowers academic and developmental experiences, allowing students to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve. More than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at


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