plan for imperfection

A thought.

I have been considering all of the changes I have seen in training and philosophy regarding law enforcement response to active shooter situations and Boston Bomber/Mumbai style terror attacks over the course of my career. I recall that the Post Analysis of the Boston Bombing response was critical about Command and Control and the fire discipline of the officers involved in some of the shootouts. In a nutshell, there was an implication that LE responded in more of a disorganized “swarm” than they did a nice…orderly… “OP”.

Well, from an LEO response end of things, I’m tending to see a successful American LE response to “shitters” like Boston or Mumbai being more of a “swarming” than an organized “operation”.

I once sat through a debrief of the Navy Yard Shooting (the real one) and the critique was that tons of cops from everywhere swarmed the area (like in Boston) with little coordination or communication. Nobody responded to staging areas, nobody awaited orders, most responders “self-deployed”.

I say…that’s why a days long Mumbai event won’t likely happen here. Sure cops may wind up shooting in all directions, but to some extent that’s going to be the reality of an effective response. Cops are going to respond from everywhere, with guns, and things are going to resolve in relatively short order. Certainly, it’s not going to look like a cut-scene from Call of Duty, and there will most likely be some stray rounds and friendly fire incidents. Smooth and organized rapid deployments are things of TV…not reality.

I make an analogy to the para-drops on D-day. Cops will likely self-organize into small units and go hunting. That’s what ultimately happened at the Navy Yard. It took some time and wasn’t pretty, but a small mixed unit finally hunted the shooter down and killed him.

Sitting around waiting for it all “to go as planned” ain’t gonna happen.

And that isn’t a “failure” IMO.

What I think law enforcement planners and trainers should start doing is “planning for imperfection”. Instead of insisting on more and more exercises and tabletops expecting cops to respond to staging areas to await deployment in “real world”, they need to start considering what is most likely going to happen in reality and develop tactics and strategies accordingly.

One thought on “plan for imperfection”

  1. Things never “go as planned”. I salute any person who goes in harms way to save others. The sad thing is that the ones who are actually protecting others end up caught up in a legal battle or sent to jail. All because they did the morally respectful thing. Thanks for your insight.

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