There’s a whole lot in the Washington Post article “They took too damn long: Inside the police response to the Orlando shooting, and there is a whole lot missing. Since it is not included in the article, I’ll skip over commenting on the initial police response. But even after that initial response, a huge, flashing, screaming, bright red light goes off in my head right here:
Police fired at Mateen when he popped his head out of one of the bathrooms. The shooter was outgunned and outnumbered. But then, police decided not to pursue him.
I don’t want to impune the bravery, or the judgment of the 10 officers responding at that time. According to their chief, these men followed their training. Given that, we have to take into question their training and the policies that back up that training.
To have a threat identified, and in this case to be in direct visual observation and actively firing at the threat, and then to back off that threat is a tactical error. A big one. I don’t know how to get past that.
By all accounts, they had numerical superiority, they had sufficient firepower, and a greater freedom of movement. Right then, when they could see an armed man they knew had killed people and there were people lying dead and dying all around them, that’s when they had to drive forward and stop the threat.
Instead, they allowed the enemy to reload and reposition. That was the critical error that resulted in an additional lose of life. People bled to death while they waited, and then the shooter killed more.
The Orlando Police chief says they didn’t enter and stopped firing because the situation became a “barricaded gunman situation,” and it was no longer an “active shooter situation.”
Was it an active shooter situation when he was running away from the police who were shooting at him? Was it an active shooter situation when his rifle jammed and he transitioned to his sidearm? Did it only become an active shooter situation again when he started to pull the trigger on his victims after a failed breach?
None of that matters. Whether or not it remained an active shooter situation, it certainly remained an active dying situation. While the already outdated and discarded “wait and see” policy was in effect in Orlando, multiple people bled to death.
In the article, former FBI SWAT team member and hostage negotiator Chris Voss states “buying time increases the likelihood of a successful assault” and can often save more lives.” This ignores a painful fact.
Tick Tock, Drip Drop, they are bleeding to death. Lots of them.
He doesn’t have to shoot more to kill more. All he has to do is wait.And that’s what he did. He waited, in complete control of the situation.
At that point, the Orlando police department was out of good options. Actually they were out of anything but really bad options. Entering with ballistic shields through a single opening was an option. A bad one.
Explosively breaching was an option. A bad one. Tossing flash bangs and rushing in was an option. A bad one. Apparently just waiting until there were fewer hostages left alive was also an option. A bad one.
Eventually, the Orlando police decided to use explosives to enter the building, and failed. How that happens is beyond me, given the amount of time they had to plan and prepare for the breach and the resources at their disposal.
A few minutes later they went to plan B, and rammed through with a Bearcat. During the minutes between these two entry techniques, the shooter was killing more hostages. This Plan B, the decision to just do something, punch a hole, and start shooting the enemy, cost lives. And it probably saved a lot more.
Why was this the option, and why did it take three hours to make that decision?
Mr. Voss again sheds some light on that decision making process: “This is not military combat where there are acceptable casualties on both sides. Law enforcement doesn’t have that conversation. No casualties are acceptable.”
The two sides he is speaking of are the shooter and law enforcement. The unacceptable casualty rate is for law enforcement. The conversation that law enforcement doesn’t have is how many law enforcement casualties are acceptable. Who’s missing from that equation? The victims. The dying. Those are the “acceptable” casualties.
You are on your own.