Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Incompetent Response by Police in Orlando?

At 2 am, the gunman started shooting in an outdoor area.  At some point not too long thereafter, the timing has not been indicated, the uniformed security officer on site and several police officers opened fire on the gunman who then retreated into the club, apparently holing up in a bathroom with numerous hostages.

Three hours later, around 5 am, the police went in following an armored vehicle which broke a hole in the wall.  In the ensuing firefight, the police shot the gunman dead.

CNN states that the police said they had to wait three hours to assess the situation, get armored vehicles on the scene and make sure they had enough personnel.  This seems beyond incompetent; it exhibits almost callous disregard for the safety of those the police are sworn to protect.  

You have a gunman who has already killed many people before retreating into the building where there are more potential victims.  He has phoned 911 and declared allegiance to ISIS.  Obviously this is a very disturbed, deranged, dangerous man, even if he sounded “calm” in a phone conversation with the police.

Supporters of the police’s response say that this was a hostage situation, and the normal rule is that you don’t blast in for fear of causing loss of life; instead you talk to the gunman.  But this was not a “normal” hostage situation.  He had killed the majority of his victims before going inside and creating a hostage situation.  And the police were not in regular contact with him, talking with him.  And ISIS is known for having no tolerance for homosexuals and executing them.

If the CNN statement is a correct paraphrase of what the police said, then I think it’s clear that the policy waited not because they wanted to protect the lives of those inside, but because they wanted the maximum protection for themselves when they went in to confront the lone gunman.

I know that police are not trained in the same way the military are.  Nevertheless, when the situation calls for it, they need to be warriors and protect those they are charged to protect without over-concern for their own safety.  My assessment of the reports I’ve read is that they did not display courage or heroism.

Given the world we live in, police around the country should have clear and uniform directions as to how to respond to various terrorist situations, and they should have the training to enable them to carry out such directions.   These directions should probably come from the FBI.  Further, once such a situation develops, someone from the FBI or military should immediately be put in charge of the operation or at the very least advise the local police what action they should take.

(This post was delayed due to its submission as an op-ed piece elsewhere.)