The problem of inadequate police responses to mass shootings is national

More great reporting from ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, and FRONTLINE on how police departments across the country have no idea how to react to mass shootings.

During an October conference to prepare law enforcement for dealing with an active shooter, Nevada State Police department Lt. Jacob Fisher played body camera footage that showed what he believed was a key misstep during the country’s deadliest mass shooting.

The footage from the 2017 massacre at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino showed a veteran Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer and his trainee waiting on the floor below the shooter instead of confronting him as he spewed gunfire into the crowd of concertgoers outside. Six years later, Fisher told the room full of law enforcement officers and firefighters at the conference in Grapevine that he had trained the veteran officer and felt like he had failed.

Sixty people died, including Fisher’s best friend, and more than 850 others were injured.

“I failed, and because of that I had to carry my best friend’s casket nine days later,” Fisher said. “I failed his kids. I failed his wife. I failed that organization because, for whatever reason, I couldn’t break through and find a way to convey a message to that cop to where he would run 800 yards toward active gunfire.”

While stressing the importance of training and leadership, Fisher made a stunning admission. He said he sends his children to school with bulletproof backpacks and tourniquet kits because he doesn’t trust that law enforcement officers would save them in the event of a mass shooting.

“Why do I as a parent have to arm my children at the ages of 8 and 10 and teach them those things?” said Fisher, who spoke with a reporter at the conference but could not later be reached for comment. “Because the cops in my jurisdiction, I don’t trust to go save them.”


ProPublica, The Texas Tribune and FRONTLINE found that active shooter training varies widely across the country and that law enforcement officers make similar mistakes in mass shooting after mass shooting. Yet those failures are not always clearly identified in reports dissecting the incidents, adding to the difficulty of learning from past missteps.

Communities often rely on after-action reviews of mass shootings for a comprehensive and independent assessment of what happened. In the Las Vegas case, the body camera footage allowed the public to see what the report did not address, but the failure to release records, video and other evidence after mass shootings can leave many in the dark even when these analyses are issued.

Despite the U.S. facing more than 120 mass shootings in the past two-and-a-half decades, ProPublica, the Tribune and FRONTLINE found that there is no agreed-upon national standard for who conducts after-action assessments of law enforcement’s response, what they should examine or whether the resulting findings should be released.

Reports were never publicly issued in many cases, such as the 2018 shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that resulted in the deaths of 10 people and the 2019 El Paso shooting in which 23 died. And when they were made public, there was wide variability in what they contained. The news organizations analyzed more than three dozen publicly available after-action reports, finding that some excluded key details about officers’ actions or failed to fully explore other missteps, including individual delays in engaging the shooter.

Some reviews have “really important chunks that are missing,” said Louis Klarevas, a mass shooting expert and research professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College who argues that more records should be made public. “That raises a red flag.”

“Why did they focus on just this one aspect, or these two aspects? And what about everything else?” he added.

See here for their previous reporting on Uvalde, which I warn you is hard to read, and then go read the rest. Ironically, the Uvalde shooting is a rare one in which fairly comprehensive reports have been produced, though there are still gaps. Reading this story, it seems clear to me that there needs to be national legislation to better collect and study the data – Lord knows, we have no shortage of data on mass shootings – and to mandate certain requirements of law enforcement related to training and after action reviews. It’s bad enough that we all live in fear of mass shootings. It’s incomprehensible that we haven’t learned enough from them for law enforcement to respond to them in a sufficient fashion. This needs to be addressed by Congress. We need to demand that of our Congressmembers.

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2 Responses to The problem of inadequate police responses to mass shootings is national

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    In New York State this year, I had to pass a background check to buy some rifle ammo before hunting season. In the store, of course I had to listen to complaints blaming the Governor for this oppressive measure. Heard more of the same just today from my brother and nephew. Me, I’m just glad somebody’s doing something. If this stops a shooting somewhere, wonderful. If not, well, mass shootings are a clear and present danger, unlike the threat of some potential tyranny; we all should live so long.

  2. Syd Famis says:

    Thanks for looking out.
    Some of our redneck brothers and kin are watching wrong direction news feeds and then believing their own lies. Misunderstanding gun control, mishearing and or misreading logical regulations, becomes conspiracy fodder and undermines truth and justice and then distorts the American way into a “new_abnormal” so much untethered animosity poses as patriotism in bogus and false frenzied feeds , so a vaccinated background check becomes a hyperbolic insult to rights, personal freedom and we must then acquiesce to stop believing in science , history and medical research thus not trusting government (I get that), demanding change in politics and rule of law while watching Faux News on an iPhone sitting On your “my pillow” under the flat earth map smoking legal Loco weed and using the gambling app to opt for addiction counseling anlll while Refusing to vote on advice from the president with no president as we perceive him.

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