Abstract: In the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, the first responders were patrol and traffic officers, investigators, and command personnel, not tactical units. This is also likely to be the case in future attacks. In both cases, the local law enforcement response required judgment calls in extremely volatile and difficult circumstances. While well-defined, well-developed, and practiced protocols equipped responding officers to perform effectively during these tragic events, vital lessons have also been learned, including how to confront attackers armed or claiming to be armed with high-powered weapons and explosive devices. Some traditional practices need to be realigned and enhanced to improve the survivability of victims and the safety of first responders in an increasingly complicated threat environment.

During the last decade, individuals motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and individual factors have engaged in horrific acts of mass violence targeting innocent civilians in communities across the United States. These attacks, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service in 2015, have increased in frequency as well as lethality.1 This new reality has challenged law enforcement agencies to ensure their training, tactics, and operational procedures evolve effectively in order to confront offenders who kill and seriously injure defenseless civilians at movie theaters,a schools,b churches,c conference rooms,d nightclubs,e and iconic sporting eventsf as well as in mobile active shootings throughout a community.g

This articleh focuses on the local law enforcement response to two acts of mass public violence— the terrorist attacks at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. These two events, perpetrated by individuals inspired by Islamist extremist ideology, claimed the lives of 63 innocent people and injured 75 others, shocking law enforcement officials and communities across the country.i In both instances, patrol and traffic officers, investigators, and command personnel—not tactical teams—were the first law enforcement personnel to arrive on scene. The situations they encountered were marked by chaos and unimaginable devastation, with overwhelming sights, sounds, and smells of human tragedy—victims begging for help, people dying, and others who were already deceased.

In both incidents, the terrorists targeted first responders with secondary devices or the threat thereof. Law enforcement personnel were challenged by the possibility that the perpetrators were wearing suicide vests and/or had placed them on hostages. Both incidents ended in a barrage of gunfire as officers put themselves in harm’s way, confronting heavily armed suspects who fought until they were neutralized.

The San Bernardino and Pulse nightclub terrorist attacks were committed by “homegrown jihadis” inspired by the Islamic State, who planned and prepared their brutal attacks hidden from the community and law enforcement. Their chief asset was that their plans were developed in secret, making it exceedingly difficult for law enforcement to detect or disrupt their attacks. In 2010, Yemeni-American terrorist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki gloated that “jihad is becoming as American as apple pie.”2 That seemingly absurd claim, it turns out, has some merit as “domestic terrorism from all sources is endemic and shows no signs of abating,” according to research by the Southern Poverty Law Center.3

This article describes the San Bernardino and Orlando attacks, identifies lessons learned during the Police Foundation’s reviews of law enforcement responses to the attacks, and highlights some of the challenges confronting the law enforcement response to terrorist events and other acts of mass public violence. Finally, the article discusses areas that require further attention so as to improve the safety of communities and first responders in the United States.

Inland Regional Center – San Bernardino, California
On the morning of December 2, 2015, San Bernardino County Public Health employees gathered in a conference room inside the Inland Regional Center (IRC) in San Bernardino, California, for training and a holiday party. During a short break, Syed Farook, a fellow public health employee who had left the meeting earlier, returned with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, dressed in dark tactical military-style gear to kill his co-workers.j Armed with high-powered semi-automatic rifles (AR-15s), the couple sprayed the conference room with approximately 100 .223 rounds as Farook’s co-workers ran for cover, hid under tables and behind doors, lay motionless on the floor, or were gravely wounded or killed by the terrorists’ bullets. Within minutes, Farook and Malik killed 14 and wounded 22 others. IRC employees, located on the floors above the conference room or in adjoining buildings, called 911 and described the attack to dispatchers as they hid from the assailants or fled the building. The first report of shots fired came in at 1058 hours.4

The first police officer arrived on scene approximately three and a half minutes after the initial dispatch went out. He was met by three other San Bernardino Police Department officers, all of whom heard the call and responded. None of the officers (one lieutenant, one patrol officer, one homicide detective, and one motorcycle officer) had worked or even trained together. The lieutenant quickly rallied the officers, organized the contact team into a diamond formation (a tactic they had learned during recent active shooter training), and entered the building.

Dozens of victims lay on the ground, many with devastating wounds—moaning and grabbing at the legs of the officers as they moved through the room and tried to focus on finding, apprehending, or neutralizing the assailants. “It was the worst thing imaginable. Some people were quiet, hiding. Others were screaming or dying, grabbing at your legs because they wanted us to get them out, but our job at the moment was to keep going,” recalled one of the first officers to enter the conference room. “That was the hardest part, stepping over them.”5 The contact team also encountered water pouring from a pipe that had ruptured during the shooting, mixing water with the blood that covered the floor and further challenging the officers’ ability to progress through the scene. The smell of gunpowder filled the air. The fire alarm blared, and the alarm’s strobe lights added to the overwhelming sensory stimuli.6

As the initial contact team moved through the building, a second contact team, similarly diverse in composition, entered the building from the opposite side. The two teams met up and continued to search for the shooters. They cleared the first floor, working together as if they had done so in the past. SWAT team members and other officers joined the search, which was physically exhausting because of the number of locked hallway doors and rooms that had to be forced open, entered, and cleared. The heat as well as the tactical gear that some of the officers wore added to the physical challenges. Once officers gained entry to an area, they had to exercise weapons discipline and caution as frightened victims, who could have been mistaken for the shooter(s), ran toward them. Because the ad hoc search teams lacked a standardized way to mark cleared rooms, some rooms were searched more than once. Officers were unsure if they had been cleared because of their unfamiliarity with the markings left by a previous search team.

A cadre of responders followed the initial contact teams into the building, many of them county probation officers. The officers extracted victims who needed emergency medical treatment, loading them into vehicles and moving them across the street to a triage area. With no litters or tactical stretchers available, responders improvised with blankets, chairs, and other items. The officers noted that they lacked training and equipment to treat the severe bleeding and extensive trauma they encountered. Inside the conference room, a tactical medic triaged the wounded, identifying the most critically injured for removal and treatment.k

While victims were being treated and the IRC cleared, at some point after 1500 hours, San Bernardino investigators located the assailants’ SUV in nearby Redlands after a police analyst linked the rented SUV to Farook and his residence in Redlands. Law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions engaged the suspect in a high-speed pursuit after the SUV failed to yield. During the pursuit, the assailants fired multiple rounds at the officers. The assailants stopped their SUV in an intersection near the IRC. Farook exited the vehicle, shooting at the police, while Malik directed unrelenting gunfire at the officers from inside the vehicle. Officers returned fire, directing at least 440 rounds at the terrorists, killing them. Together, the two suspects fired at least 81 rounds at officers. The shooting stopped at 1514 hours.

Responding to the traffic stop and the shootout, self-deployed officers parked their cars and blocked ingress and egress for other emergency vehicles. This issue has been identified in a number of after action reports—including those for Dorner,7 Aurora,8 Stockton,9 the Navy Yard,10 and Paris11—and should be addressed through policies, procedures, and training as it poses a risk to those who are injured and need lifesaving evacuation. Additionally, the bottlenecks can prevent important assets such as armored vehicles and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) equipment from a timely arrival on scene to address or mitigate threats to officers and civilians.

Law enforcement officers search for the suspects of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on December 2, 2015. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

Armored vehicles provided cover as officers secured the body of Farook and removed Malik’s body from the vehicle. Police immediately searched their vehicle for explosives and evidence. As investigators searched the bodies of the deceased assailants and the inside of the vehicle, they found two .223-caliber rifles (one of which had been modified in an attempt to make it fully automatic); a 9mm handgun; multiple electronic devices (cell phone, tablet, and MP3 player); and approximately 1,879 rounds of .223 ammunition and 484 rounds of 9mm ammunition. The assailants had taped ammunition magazines together to make switching them out easier. Investigators also found in the vehicle what they believed was the trigger apparatus intended to be used to detonate the secondary device found at the IRC, as well as medical supplies (ibuprofen, quick-clot agents, tourniquets, emergency bandages, and adult diapers). The assailants had worn all black clothing, ski masks, load-bearing vests, and Airsoft neck guards; neither wore body armor.12

As FBI SWAT team members and local law enforcement officers searched and cleared the IRC, they found what appeared to be a remotely controlled improvised explosive device (IED) in a bag in the conference room. When discovered, the IED was armed and ready to detonate. It appears the IED was left for the purpose of injuring and/or killing first responders. The building was evacuated, and bomb squad officers rendered the device safe. The IRC was cleared and released to investigators at 2129 hours on December 2, approximately 11 hours after the first shots were fired.

Pulse Nightclub – Orlando, Florida
On June 12, 2016, approximately 300 patrons were at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The bartenders at the club’s three bars had just announced last call when, at approximately 0200 hours, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American of Afghan descent entered the club and started shooting.13 The small size of the nightclub and the high density of people inside made his gunfire even more devastating. Mateen fired more than 200 rounds from a .223 semi-automatic rifle and 9mm handgun during the initial minutes of the incident.14 Club-goers ran for exits or a place to hide, fell to the ground, or were hit by bullets. In the end, 49 individuals were killed and 53 injured. What began as an active shooter incident transitioned into a barricaded suspect with hostages. It became the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

An Orlando Police Department (OPD) detective who was working an off-duty detail at Pulse engaged the suspect immediately after the first shots were fired, and called for backup. OPD officers, including some from the SWAT Team, responded in less than a minute after the shots-fired call was put out over the police radio. As more OPD officers arrived, some took tactical positions around the club, and two contact teams formed and entered the club at 0208 hours—one through a patio entrance and one, led by a SWAT lieutenant, through a front window. Together, the teams were able to drive the suspect to the rear of the club where he barricaded himself in a bathroom in which some club-goers had hidden.15 At this point, officers stopped hearing gunfire, indicating that the suspect had stopped firing his weapon, and the incident transitioned from an active shooter to a hostage situation.

As soon as the subject was contained, officers began evacuating the wounded. They set up a triage area and transported the critically injured to Orlando Regional Medical Center, which was a few blocks away, in police and personal vehicles. They rescued club-goers who had barricaded themselves in offices and other rooms inside the club and, they established a command post.16 At approximately 0235 hours, Mateen called 911 and told the call-taker that he was responsible for the shootings and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.17 After answering a return call from an OPD Crisis Negotiation Team sergeant at 0247 hours, he repeated this allegiance and further indicated that “there’s some vehicles outside that have some bombs … [that] can take out a whole city block almost” and that he had at least one bomb vest.18 At 0252, a victim advised 911 that the suspect had a bomb vest strapped to him.19 There were several more short exchanges with negotiators over the phone, with Mateen telling police shortly before 0330 hours, “you’re annoying me with these phone calls, and I don’t really appreciate it.”20 There were no further contacts with Mateen after that call. At 0341, four performers were rescued from a dressing room inside the club.21 At 0403, a K-9 alerted on Mateen’s vehicle adding validity to his claim (which would prove false) that there were explosives inside.22 At 0429 hours, eight victims who had hidden in a dressing room that adjoined the north bathroom where Mateen was contained, were rescued after SWAT officers removed an air conditioner.23 Officers then received information from the brother of a hostage who received a text by the hostage at 0429 hours stating that the suspect intended to place bomb vests on four of the hostages in 15 minutes, adding validity to Mateen’s earlier claim that he had at least one suicide vest.24

Concern that hostages inside the bathrooms might soon be targeted led to the decision by law enforcement leaders to breach the exterior wall to enter the south bathroom to rescue victims.25 At approximately 0502 hours, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) EOD squad detonated an explosive charge on the west wall, then broke through portions of the hallway wall between the north and south bathrooms. An OPD armored vehicle equipped with a ram was then used to breach the remaining portions of the hallway wall and quickly moved to the south bathroom wall. Breaches of the south bathroom wall were made, allowing some of the victims to escape. At 0514, the suspect began firing inside the north bathroom. OPD SWAT officers deployed two flashbangs through the hole in the hallway, and the armored vehicle began to breach the wall of the north bathroom. At 0515, as OPD and OCSO Hazardous Device Team (HDT) personnel prepared to enter the hallway, the suspect came out of the bathroom firing his weapons at officers. A SWAT officer was struck in his ballistic helmet. Officers returned fire, killing the shooter.26

Lessons Learned 
In San Bernardino and Orlando, law enforcement officers demonstrated professionalism, dedication, and bravery as they confronted terrorists who had committed horrific acts of mass violence and remained a threat to the community and the first responders. Law enforcement officers, immediately upon arrival, formed contact teams, entered the locations, and began an active search to locate, contain, apprehend, or neutralize the terrorist(s), placing themselves in harm’s way to save others. In doing so, they adhered to their training and to best practices in response to an active shooter situation, undoubtedly preventing further violence and saving the lives of critically injured victims. In fact, San Bernardino area law enforcement officers credited their response to the active shooter training they had received prior to the attack. One officer remarked, “Regional and realistic training was invaluable. Training came into play tenfold. We didn’t have to think about how we should do it—we just did it.”27

In the case of the Orlando attack, there was a certain amount of second guessing aired in the media about why police did not move to neutralize the shooter in the bathrooms sooner. It should be stressed, however, that the police responding to the attack followed protocols and best practice for hostage situations. While a debate can be had about whether such protocols should change in the case of standoffs with Islamist terrorists seeking to kill and be killed, it is worth emphasizing that current best practices are designed to avoid the death of hostages and putting police officers in unreasonable danger. Recognizing that the threat of such extremist terrorism represents a continuing, if not growing threat, it may be appropriate to develop specific protocols for hostage events during terrorist attacks.

Police vehicles surround the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, following the worst terror attack in the United States since 9/11. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Law enforcement leaders in San Bernardino and Orlando acknowledged that they had studied, learned from, and implemented many of the lessons learned from after action reports that had been published following terrorist attacks and other mass public violence events. San Bernardino area command personnel acknowledged that they had rewritten policies, procedures, and practices in light of the response to the case of Christopher Dorner, an ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer responsible for a string of shootings who was killed in a 2013 standoff in the San Bernardino mountains, which was described in a critical incident review authored by the Police Foundation.28 Similarly, Orlando commanders, SWAT leaders, and some patrol officers had reviewed after action reports—particularly those from Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and San Bernardino—and developed and implemented training scenarios based on the lessons learned. For example, consistent with best practices developed after Columbine, officers are trained to immediately form contact teams, enter the location under attack, and prioritize apprehending, containing, and/or neutralizing the assailant(s).29 Following the actions taken in the Aurora theater shooting, officers were trained to quickly transport critically injured persons in police vehicles if the trauma center was nearby (in Orlando within a few blocks) and if rescue personnel were unavailable or unable to enter the “hot zone.”30 Additionally, officers were instructed to ensure ingress and egress were available for ambulances, fire apparatus, and other emergency vehicles.

Well-defined, well-developed, and practiced protocols have equipped law enforcement leaders and their personnel to perform at high levels in response to active shooter events to date. However, recent IED and active shooter incidents reveal that some traditional practices need to be realigned and enhanced to improve the survivability of victims and the safety of first responders in an increasingly complicated threat environment.31 For example, as demonstrated in San Bernardino and as threatened in Orlando, single or multiple IED events targeting civilians and/or first responders represent an ongoing and growing threat from domestic and foreign individuals and groups.32 In this regard, the Boston Police Department (BPD) is drawing on the U.S. military’s experience with IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan to train its tactical personnel. According to BPD spokesperson Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, “in terms of improvised explosive devices, it is imperative that we train for those types of threats. The [Boston] marathon bombing is a perfect example—the device was of a type widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could very likely be used again in the U.S.”33

Patrol officers, as demonstrated in San Bernardino, Orlando, Paris, and most recently in London,34 are increasingly the first law enforcement personnel to arrive on scene. While significant emphasis has been placed on training SWAT and other tactical units to respond to terrorist attacks,35 recent incidents have demonstrated that the actions taken by patrol and other non-tactical unit officers greatly impacts the outcome of the event. For example, the first officer to reach the worst of the carnage at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris was armed with only a service sidearm. The officer stalled the killing by shooting one attacker, resulting in the detonation of the terrorist’s suicide vest.36 In San Bernardino and Orlando, the first officers to arrive on scene immediately formed contact teams and entered the IRC and Pulse nightclub, respectively to “stop the killing and stop the dying.”37

The presence of IEDs, suicide bombers, and/or hostages suggests that greater emphasis must be placed on providing training for patrol officers arriving on the scene of a terrorist attack. In addition to tactics, training should include decision-making and critical-thinking components in order to strengthen the patrol officer’s ability to conduct a situational assessment and develop and execute an appropriate course of action in highly complex and volatile situations. In this regard, law enforcement agencies should create a stand-alone policy and/or training curriculum that addresses the response to IEDs, suicide bombers, and hostage situations. The policy and training must be consistent with the agency’s use of force policies, procedures, and training as well as its active shooter protocols.38 In developing  policies, procedures, and protocols, agencies must recognize that terrorists are specifically looking to target first responders with secondary devices and that the emphasis on taking immediate action to stop the killing and dying may lead to some or all of the initial contact teams being critically injured or killed. Making decisions in how to respond in an increasingly hostile operating environment is neither simple nor easy. Protocols, policies, procedures, and training must be developed before an event happens and with the recognition that terrorists are studying the police response to incidents of mass public violence.39

The terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, as well as other incidents in the West, have provided a number of additional lessons for police forces in the United States when it comes to command at the scene, communication, equipment, and medical capabilities.

Incident Command
A coordinated command and control strategy is critical as multiple units and/or agencies respond to acts of mass public violence and/or terrorist attacks. Incident command structures facilitate communication, situational awareness, operational coordination, resource allocation, and the delivery of services in chaotic environments. It is critically important to designate an incident commander as soon as practical to direct the initial phase of the response, make personnel assignments, and coordinate resources—many of which may be self-deployed—as they arrive on scene. A command post and staging areas should be established in secure areas that have been swept for IEDs and are protected from the threat. As senior personnel arrive on scene, the command structure should be expanded to include representatives from responding agencies and disciplines as well as specialists from intelligence, SWAT, EOD, Air Support, and so forth.

In addition to focusing on the immediate threat, it is also essential to maintain situational awareness regarding calls for services in other areas of the community. A senior command level officer should be designated to manage operations outside of the event and ensure that resources (either the agency’s or those available through mutual aid agreements) are available to respond to in-progress calls for service. Law enforcement officials must also be prepared to respond to secondary terrorist attacks as demonstrated in the Mumbai (2008) and Paris (2015) attacks. In both of these events, “small, well-armed bands of terrorists [struck] simultaneously and sequentially against multiple soft targets.”40 Regional capacity regarding incident command should be built and strengthened through interagency/multi-discipline protocols and training exercises.

Both internal and interagency communications during the San Bernardino terrorist attack proved challenging. The volume of police radio traffic limited the availability of radio bandwidth. Also, a number of officers reported difficulty identifying the appropriate radio channel to monitor. Some officers reported radio communication problems inside the IRC because of the buildings’ construction and lack of repeaters to boost signals. Others felt uncomfortable using unencrypted communications to notify co-responding officers of law enforcement sensitive information during the search for the suspects.41 Communications systems, including dispatch, should be load tested, and alternative protocols should be put in place should systems fail during a large-scale hostile incident. Radio discipline should be paramount during these incidents as well. Encrypted communications systems could prove extremely valuable in responding to terrorist incidents, enabling the safe sharing of sensitive information. In addition, the volume of calls from the cell phones of victims, witnesses, family and friends of victims, as well as the shooter himself in Orlando challenged the capabilities of the dispatch center. Orlando Police Communications Center staff was able to utilize their training to prioritize and delegate calls as necessary.

Immediate access to, advanced training on, and use of appropriate equipment and technology is key to officer and community safety during mass public shootings and terrorist incidents. Some San Bernardino officers reported that they were ill-equipped to engage such heavily armed assailants. One of the first contact team members stated, “I felt so naked because we didn’t have cover and concealment approaching the building. You know you are outgunned. It is going to be hard to beat an AR [AR-15 semi-automatic rifle] with a handgun, so I knew we needed good shot placement.”42 Adequate personal protective gear, including ballistic helmets and ballistic vests with ceramic plates, should be issued to protect officers from the rounds fired from high-powered rifles, as well as to shield officers from bomb fragments, shrapnel, and shock waves.

Armored vehicles provided protection to officers in San Bernardino and Orlando from rounds fired by the terrorists. In Orlando, a ram affixed to an armored vehicle was used to breach exterior walls for the purpose of rescuing hostages and neutralizing the assailant. EOD resources rendered the secondary device (IED) safe in San Bernardino and were used to search the IRC and the assailant’s SUV. EOD resources were used in Orlando to search the assailant’s vehicle and the nightclub for IEDs as well as in an attempt to breach an exterior wall for the purpose of rescuing victims and neutralizing the assailant.

Tactical Emergency Medical Training and Equipment 
Although national law enforcement organizationsl continue to recommend that police departments provide basic tactical medical training and equipment to their officers, many departments still have not made this available. Several of the first responding officers in San Bernardino commented that they were not adequately trained or equipped to provide lifesaving emergency medical care.

During interviews, one SBC Probation Officer stated, “I geared up and tried to give first aid, but our kits were insufficient to treat the wounds.” In contrast, during the Aurora theater shooting, a police paramedic was able to get inside the theater quickly, triage victims, and help extract those who were critically wounded to a “warm zone” where fire department emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were able to treat them.43 In Orlando, officers operating under the threat of IEDs and gunfire, removed severely injured victims and transported them to Orlando Regional Medical Center, which was within blocks of the nightclub, saving numerous lives.44

In 2013, a group of public safety personnel from fire, law enforcement, pre-hospital care, trauma care, and the military convened in Hartford, Connecticut, to develop consensus regarding strategies to increase survivability in mass public shootings.45 Applying lessons learned from military battlefield injuries, the group of experts developed the acronym THREAT to address casualty management during high-threat tactical and rescue operations:

Threat suppression
Hemorrhage control
Rapid Extrication to safety
Assessment by medical providers
Transport to definitive care

Recognizing that IED and active shooter incidents represent an increasing threat of devastating injuries to civilians and public safety personnel, all first responders should be trained and equipped to provide basic lifesaving measures in response to explosive injuries and gunshot wounds.

Islamist and other homegrown extremists develop their plots in secret. Their tactics are constantly evolving, asymmetrical, more violent, and more devastating. They do not fit into traditional law enforcement prevention and response paradigms. Shifting to a law enforcement culture with an acute awareness of the domestic terror threat and the ability to respond will require a tremendous commitment on the part of law enforcement leaders and elected officials at the federal, state, and local level. Terrorist attacks and other instances of mass public violence, including those in San Bernardino and Orlando as well as the Islamic State’s calls for attacks across all of the United States, demonstrate that no community is immune from the threat and that local law enforcement, in particular, must develop strategies that, in the words of former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, “anticipate the next attack—not the last one.”46

Local law enforcement officers, particularly those assigned to routine patrol work, are the most important resource for identifying, preventing, and responding to the threat. Routine patrol work places officers in neighborhoods where terrorists hide, plan, and attack, giving them the opportunity to gather critical intelligence as well as to identify potential threats. In addition to their role in preventing terrorist attacks, patrol and other officers working in non-tactical units must be properly trained and equipped to identify the threat, immediately engage the perpetrator(s), extricate and render aid to victims, assume incident command, and request appropriate public safety resources.

The local law enforcement response to the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando demonstrated that well-defined, well-developed, and practiced protocols equipped law enforcement leaders and their officers to perform at high levels during these tragic events. Their bravery, professionalism, and dedication saved lives and revealed the character of the nation’s first responders. However, it must be recognized that the threat continues to evolve and become more deadly. Faced with this reality, it is necessary to continuously evaluate the threat environment and ensure that U.S. law enforcement officers are prepared to prevent or respond to the next attack.     CTC

Frank Straub is Director of Strategic Studies at the Police Foundation, a non-profit organization that studies ways to improve policing in the United States. Dr. Straub is a 30-year veteran of federal and local law enforcement, having served as the Police Chief in Spokane, Washington; the Public Safety Director in Indianapolis; the Public Safety Commissioner in White Plains, New York; and the New York City Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Training. He also served as a member of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

Jennifer Zeunik is Director of Programs at the Police Foundation. She has 20 years of experience working with public safety and non-profit organizations on law enforcement policy and practice. In her current role, Ms. Zeunik oversees the Police Foundation’s Critical Incident Review Technical Assistance projects as well as programs that provide training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country.

Ben Gorban is Policy Analyst for the Police Foundation’s Critical Incident Review Technical Assistance projects, including the ongoing review of the Orlando Pulse nightclub attack. 

Substantive Notes
[a] Aurora Century 16 Theater, Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012.

[b] Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newton, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.

[c] Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015.

[d] Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino, California, December 2, 2015.

[e] Pulse nightclub, Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016.

[f] Boston Marathon Bombings, Boston, Massachusetts, April 15, 2013.

[g] Meadows apartment complex, Seelye Kia dealership, and Cracker Barrel restaurant, Kalamazoo, Michigan, February 20, 2016.

[h] The Police Foundation’s critical incident reviews of the San Bernardino and Orlando Pulse nightclub attacks were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Department of Justice and/or the COPS Office.

[i] Fourteen individuals were killed and 22 wounded in the San Bernardino attack. Forty-nine were killed and 53 wounded in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

[j] According to the federal criminal complaint against Enrique Marquez, Farook arrived at the IRC at approximately 8:48 AM, left an item on the table at approximately 9:05 AM, and left the IRC at approximately 10:37 AM. When law enforcement entered the IRC after the shooting, they found the bag with what was later determined to be an IED.

[k] Although the Rancho Cucamonga Fire District had a fully developed Rescue Task Force (fire medics trained to integrate with a SWAT team to treat and remove injured individuals from a scene), it was not deployed.

[l] The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the President’s Police Physicians Section, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and the National Tactical Officers Association have all recommended some version of tactical medical training and equipment for local law enforcement agencies.

[1] William J. Krouse and Daniel J. Richardson, “Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999-2013,” Congressional Research Service, July 2015, p. 15.

[2] Peter Bergen, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2016), p. 19.

[3] “Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 2015, p. 9.

[4] Rick Braziel, Frank Straub, George Watson, and Rod Hoops, “Bringing Calm to Chaos: A Critical Incident Review of the San Bernardino Public Safety Response to the December 2, 2015, Terrorist Shooting Incident at the Inland Regional Center,” Critical Response Initiative, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Police Under Attack: Southern California Law Enforcement Response to the Attacks by Christopher Dorner,” Police Foundation, 2014.

[8] “Aurora Century 16 Theater Shooting After Action Report for the City of Aurora, Colorado,” TriData Division, Systems Planning Corp., April 2014, available online at the Police Foundation’s Critical Incident Review Library.

[9] Rick Braziel, Devon Bell, and George Watson, “A Heist Gone Bad: A Police Foundation Critical Incident Review of the Stockton Police Response to the Bank of the West Robbery and Hostage Taking,” Police Foundation, 2015.

[10] “After Action Report: Washington Navy Yard September 16, 2013,” Metropolitan Police Department Washington, D.C., July 2014.

[11] “The Attacks on Paris: Lessons Learned—A Presentation of Findings,” Homeland Security Advisory Council and the City of Los Angeles Paris Public Safety Delegation, Prepared by Quinn Williams, LLC, June 2016.

[12] Braziel, Straub, Watson, and Hoops.

[13] “Choice and chance: A gunman enters the Pulse nightclub. Those in his path have only a heartbeat to react,” Tampa Bay Times, June 20, 2016; Gal Tziperman Lotan, Charles Minshew, Mike Lafferty, and Andrew Gibson, “Orlando nightclub shooting timeline: Three hours of terror unfold,” Orlando Sentinel, July 1, 2016.

[14] “Law enforcement source: 202 rounds fired during Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando,” WFTV-Orlando, June 13, 2016.

[15] “Pulse Response Presentation,” Orlando Police Department, 2016.

[16] Lotan, Minshew, Lafferty, and Gibson.

[17] Transcript of calls with suspect 6-12-16, 911 audio.pdf, City of Orlando Pulse Tragedy Public Records.

[18] Transcript of calls with suspect 6-12-16, NEGOTIATION1.pdf, City of Orlando Pulse Tragedy Public Records.

[19] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[20] Transcript of calls with suspect 6-12-16, NEGOTIATION3.pdf, City of Orlando Pulse Tragedy Public Records.

[21] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[22] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[23] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[24] Lotan, Minshew, Lafferty, and Gibson.

[25] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[26] “Pulse Response Presentation.”

[27] Braziel, Straub, Watson, and Hoops.

[28] “Police Under Attack: Southern California Law Enforcement Response to the Attacks by Christopher Dorner.”

[29] “With Mass Shootings on the Rise, Law Enforcement Agencies are Updating their Active Shooter Training and Response Tactics Based on Lessons Learned,” Mission Manager, December 17, 2015.

[30] Keith Wesley and Karen Wesley, “Should Trauma Patients be Transported by Police Officers?” Journal of Emergency Medical Services, February 1, 2017.

[31] Department of Homeland Security, Office of Health Affairs, “First Responders Guide for Improving Survivability in Improvised Explosive Device and/or Active Shooter Incidents,” June 2015, p. 9.

[32] Ibid., p. 9.

[33] Dan Atkinson, “BPD to use Mideast conflicts as training to fight U.S. terror,” Boston Herald, March 30, 2017.

[34] Ishaan Tharoor, “A Terrorist Attack in London and the all-too-familiar response,” Washington Post, March 23, 2017.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Adam Nossiter, “Response to Paris Attacks Point to Weaknesses in French Police Structure,” New York Times, December 31, 2015; “The Attacks on Paris: Lessons Learned—A Presentation of Findings.” One of the recommendations in the report was “enhanced counter-terrorism training for patrol officers.” See p. 8.

[37] “How police respond in ‘Active Shooter’ situations,” CNN, November 13, 2015. is forthcoming.clusion and will appear in the Orlando review whichh s forthcomingnc. terrorists have studied the police response

[38] See, for example,  Lisa L. Spahr, Joshua Ederheimer, and David Bilson, “Patrol-level Response to a Suicide Bomb Threat: Guidelines for Consideration,” Police Executive Research Forum, April 2007.

[39] Ophir Falk and Henry Morganstern eds., Suicide Terror: Understanding and Confronting the Threat (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009).

[40] Bruce Riedel, “Modeled on Mumbai? Why the 2008 India attack is the best way to understand Paris,” The Brookings Institute, November 14, 2015.

[41] Braziel, Straub, Watson, and Hoops.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Aurora Century 16 Theater Shooting After Action Report for the City of Aurora, Colorado.”

[44] A.J. Heightman, “How EMS and Fire Processes Must Change During Dynamic and Active Threat Situations,” Journal of Emergency Medical Services, August 1, 2016.

[45] “The Hartford Consensus,” American College of Surgeons, 2013.

[46] Keosha Varela, “Jeh Johnson: ‘We Have to Anticipate the Next Attack, Not the Last One,’” Aspen Security Forum, July 2016.

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