Quick Response ‘Saved Lives’ in Kalamazoo Shooting Tragedy: Study

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Photo by Kalamazoo Public Safety Department.

Police and public safety agencies across the US should have communications systems and personnel networks in place to deal with “novel, complex and hostile” events long before they happen, a Police Foundation study recommends.

The recommendations were based on an in-depth “critical incident review” of last year’s Kalamazoo, MI mass shooting incident. The Feb. 20, 2016 event, which left six people dead and two injured, was triggered by a 45-year-old Uber driver named Jason Dalton, and triggered fears that another act of terrorism had been inflicted on Middle America.

The actions by Dalton, who was arrested the next day, were a reminder that “no community is immune from mass violence,” said the review.

The Police Foundation, a Washington,DC-based think tank focused on applying science-based strategies to improving policing, praised public safety organizations in the Kalamazoo region for their quick response to the tragedy. ”Their actions saved lives,” said the study.

But the review, entitled “Managing the Response to a Mobile Mass Shooting,” and co-authored by Frank Straub, Brett Cowell, Jennifer Zeunik and Ben Gorban, also drew key lessons that it recommended should be followed by police agencies across the country.

The recommendations included:

  • Relationships among the public sdafety organizations in a region should be built early, during routine operations and drills that involve multi-agency command and control;
  • Emergency communication policies, procedures and practices should be designed in advance to ensure a “timely and accurate intake of information” from all public sources, ranging from voicemail to text and video;
  • Release of information to the public should be carefully coordinated;
  • All law enforcement personnel should receive upgraded emergency medical and “tactical emergency” training to enable them to render swift aid to injured victims and colleagues.

“We hope that the lessons learned in this report adds to that growing body of knowledge to be used by public safety agencies to enhance their preparation for and response to active shooter or other hostile events,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.

“The ability that leaders have to collaborate, innovate, and adapt their responses to these events will be critical in a world where surprise and uncertainty are becoming all-too-common characteristics of public safety.”

The full Critical Incident Review,  is available here.

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