By Brandon Davis, PoliticKING
AFP TV screenshot
They are the first of their kind and exhibit what terror preparedness might look like for cities in the future. It is the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival next month, and France is taking serious measures to ready their national security for the worst-case scenario. As glitzy A-list hype buzzes, world premiere screenings gear up, and hoards of people select finely designed evening wear, France’s national security teams have staged a series of coordinated attacks on their own city.
Fake car bombs went off Thursday, and another fake explosion jolted the Palais convention center - the venue for the festival - followed quickly by four armed terrorists forcing their way into the grand entrance where the red carpet will lay. 200 volunteers also took part in the simulation, many “injured” in red vests, a few splayed out across the main steps of the Palais.
"You have to be prepared for what we consider a multi-terror event, not only in one place and not only in one hour — in a few places over a few hours," city security consultant Nitzan Nuriel told The Hollywood Reporter.
The terror simulation encouraged police to be quick in the pursuit of the attackers, attempting to secure the area and eliminate the threat, but it was not just local police taking part in this unique event. National police, fire fighters, EMTs, hospital workers, doctors, and even local schools participated with the security drills.
AFP TV screenshot
Mayor, David Lisnard, told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s rather innovative for a city… one has to be prepared in case the worst occurs,” he said. These real-life rehearsals are meant to have teams "immediately on the ground and know what to do," said Nuriel. "The most important thing is to make sure that we have the know-how, the capability, and are fully trained to take the responsibility if something should happen."
France has been operating under the “Vigipirate” protocol since 2015’s Charlie Hebdo attacks. Under the nationwide security alert, bag checks and metal detectors became mandatory at movie theaters, among other things. The country has remained on high alert due to the attacks in Paris, occurring last November, which killed 130. Last month’s Brussels attacks also encouraged a magnified security stance. Nuriel and other security staff will evaluate Thursday's exercise to decide if other protocols need to be introduced ahead of the more than 200,000 people estimated to descend on the tiny Riviera town.
So far, this will translate to some 400 SWAT-style CRS officers beefing up patrols of the municipal police, who will be on daily duty for the festival's 12 days. New police chief, Philippe Jos, has forbidden officers from taking time off. National police in plain clothes will also be on patrol, and an additional 400 private security guards will be licensed to carry, which is a rare arrangement in gun-shy France. The seaside town also recently installed its 500th outdoor security camera, meaning there is one for every 147 people in the population.
As of now, however, no specific threats to Cannes or the festival are known. The country will also play host to soccer’s European Championship this summer.
To see video of the simulation, click here.
Lindsey Graham sat with Larry King shortly after the Paris attacks last November:
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