A report of shots fired at the Navy Yard in Washington, D. C. brought a huge response from law enforcement from all areas. The response was immediate and overwhelming. As it turns out, the report was false. The incident remains under investigation at the time of this writing.
Almost immediately, the media began broadcasting what little information they could gather. However, due to my security and law enforcement back ground, I was watching and listening for other things. One thing I noticed right away was how much the reporters talked about the overwhelming response. That got me to thinking. Following, I will explain some of the dangers associated with such a response. I will also explain the positives. But, let me make one thing very clear. Security is not 100% full proof. I don't care how many layers of security a person, business, ship yard, or military installation has it is not protected from a determined criminal or terrorist.
One news program noted that there had been a number of false reports over the past 30 days. The reporter insinuated that law enforcement and intelligence officials were over reacting. Were they? I say no they were not. Here is why.
False alarms are part of the law enforcement business. Suspicious people are often gone on arrival (GOA). Burglary alarms are most often false alarms. Suspicious vehicles often belong in the area they were spotted or they too are GOA. The question then is just who is making these reports? Could it be a truly concerned citizen? Could it be an anonymous caller. What about a person that is just measuring a response to help them determine time lines, number of respondents, or actions of those respondents?
In an incident such as the one at the Navy Yard, remember that just three years ago 12 people were killed in that same building due to an active shooter. Not to mention, the July 4 celebrations and elevated terrorist alert has people on edge. So, the response was huge.
Now, if a terrorist were to be the person reporting this shooting, what might he/she be looking for? First, how many people responded? Where did they come from? How were they armed? Where did they stage? What did they do about evacuating the facility? Where were they evacuees sent? What about the media? Where were they staged? Why is any of this important? There is a very simple answer to the last question.
By measuring the response to a false report, a terrorist may now have new targets that are now exposed. If a terrorist wanted to cause great harm in front of the media and get the best exposure, this is the time to do it. Remember, even with law enforcement all over the place, these terrorists are committed to their cause. Death to them is martyrdom. So, a terrorist, or other criminal, could inflict serious casualties in a very short period of time.
Law enforcement leaders are aware of this threat. They are constantly vigilant to the possibility someone is lurking in the crowd looking to inflict harm upon the masses. This is why the response is so overwhelming.
Again, no security is 100% guaranteed. But rest assured, every precaution that could be taken is considered. Remember to be vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings; especially if you are evacuated for such an incident. Report any suspicious or unusual events to local law enforcement.
Roger W. Chappell, has over 25 years of experience in the Law Enforcement and Security industry. His experience allows him to assist attorneys for both Plaintiff and Defense in determining whether or not minimum industry standards were met regarding premises liability. Additionally, he has a vast array of experience in criminal investigations.
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