If you hear gunfire, sirens, and blood-curdling screams in downtown Houston Friday, just ignore it — it's just an "emergency management" drill hosted by UH-Downtown.
The drill (we like to call it "Jade Helm 16") is scheduled for 8-11 a.m. "north of campus in the Daly Street student parking lot and the Shea Street Building," and will include the Houston police and fire departments, as well as the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, METRO, and the UHD Police Department, according to UHD.
"People in the area can expect to see an increase in law-enforcement activity, and hear sirens and shouting," according to an alert from the city's Office of Emergency Management, which also notes that the gunfire you'll hear is only simulated.
Frankly, we can't imagine a better way for city, county, and federal law-enforcement agencies in the nation's fourth-largest city to spend a Friday. We've given this a lot of thought and have arrived at the only possible conclusion: This is in no way the silliest fucking thing we've ever heard of. There is simply no way anyone in their right mind could ever consider this to be a colossal waste of time and money, or mistake it for an exercise in paramilitary masturbation. (We were on the fence at first, but when we learned that the TSA was involved — let's just say that that's when we knew for sure that this was one well thought-out plan).
Carol Manousos, UHD's director of emergency management, stated on UHD's website that “UHD joined with METRO in a collaborative effort to plan, develop and coordinate this emergency management drill and incorporate multiple law enforcement agencies. Working with response partners prepares the University for emergency situations and enhances the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. This real-time drill will simulate an actual emergency and provide a learning experience between participating agencies.”
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We were already looking forward to another day of near-triple-digit heat and asphyxiating humidity — but now we can add fake gunfire and wailing police sirens to the mix? And all before lunchtime? Yes, please!