Tacticians and Warrior-Types, please analyze and respond

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Leaving all the cultural-Manson-trench-coat stuff aside for the moment, there's an interesting tatical, or perhaps personal, issue in the Littleton thing. What do the experience tacticians here think of the police inaction ? Would you all have gone in ? Had a good fake out ? Would police of 30 years ago have gone in ? Would the Marines have mopped it up in no time flat ?? Here's an evocative little snippet from a much longer csy2k post today:

Witness the police who listened for 3 1/2 hours to the screams, wails and death cries of the wounded and dying before entering the Columbine school. Brave Warriors trussed up in the finest combat armour money can buy, outfitted with weapons andequipment that the soldiers in Vietnam never dreamt of. And yet these Courageous Guardians of the Public Weal quaked in their boots for 3 1/2 hours while the people that they swore a solemn, holy oath to protect and defend wereallowed to die in an agony twice made gruesome by their abandonment. And of what great, overpowering, fearsome enemy were these noble warriors of the civitas afraid? Two boys of draft age.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), April 23, 1999


Agree 100%. There would be a danger of hitting the wrong people, but a slight danger compared to the up-side. It's incomprehensible how they handled this.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 23, 1999.

It was supposed to happen this way. Look at how it's being used after the fact and you'll understand why. Does the idea disturb you? Then how much important that you expend the effort to determine whether it is in fact true.


-- Dano (bookem@blacksand.srf), April 23, 1999.

Even with the referenced offensive and defensive equipment, would _I_ have gone in? Hell no! But then I'm your basic coward type. Now if I had specialized training and specific authority, that would be different. But as I recall, even law enforcement _does not_ have a legal obligation to provide assistance. And if I had a family to care for, and no kids of my own in the school, what's the rush? If I don't live past today, how can I help anyone tomorrow?

-- A. Hambley (a.hambley@usa.net), April 23, 1999.

Maybe they weren't worried about gunmen or bombs. Maybe they were afraid of making a mistake and facing . . . the lawyers.

Just speculating! 8^)

Please note that any speculation which appears in this posting is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be considered, legal or professional counsel or advice, nor substitute for obtaining legal or professional advice from competent, independent, legal or professional counsel in the relevant jurisdiction or profession. User bears all risk relating to the use of this speculation, which is provided "as-is" without warranty or indemnity of any kind. Transmission of this speculation is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney- client relationship, nor a relationship of consultancy. The speculation in this posting may or may not reflect the most current legal or other developments, and should not be solely relied upon to make decisions of any substantive nature.


-- David S. Angal (dsangal@ibm.net), April 23, 1999.

It's sick. I sat there screaming at the tube for them numnuts to DO SOMETHING.

It was obvious to even the newscrews that there was shooting going on during the 3+ hour ordeal.

THIS is why you cannot rely on enforcement to protect you. This is another example of WHY many are opting to arm themselves, Y2K or not.

Who's hands do you want to put your life into? Theirs or yours? (Spare the God answer, He expects us to be prudent).

I imagine as the weeks go by, the question about the inaction will heat up dramatically as the shock and grief give way to anger.

We will be hearing much more about this.

-- INVAR (gundark@sw.net), April 23, 1999.


I am by no means a tactician, but at least consider this: What would we be discussing here if the police had charged in, and the building had gone up like in the Oklahoma City bombing, killing EVERYONE? What would be said here if that had happened instead?

The authorities aren't omniscient. It was a very bad situation. It could have been handled better. It could have been much worse.


-A computer glitch will not bring about the end of civilization. It takes hordes of panicking people to do that.-

-- Jonathan Latimer (latimer@q-a.net), April 23, 1999.

Was going to start a thread on this subject to-day. Glad you did. Can't immagine letting a person bleed to death for four hours. [The teacher shot twice in the chest]. According to reports these two boys killed themselves after about one hour. That leaves a remaining three hours for these police to do something. We are missing something here. The police, by asking any student who was anywhere near the shooting would have be told that the shooters where in black trench coats. From TV reports there was a police man in the building at the time of the shooting, and apparently he had a running shooting battle with these boys. What really surprises my is that the press, TV, talking heads, etc. have not picked up on this part of the story.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 23, 1999.

---gotta agree, after an initial assessment by those live interviews from escaping kids that there were only a handful at most shooters, the cops should have gone in, using normal hostage-taken tactics. There are scenarios where there's no action, but that changes when there's active shooting going on. Israelis have proven over and over that this is the only effective way of dealing with that. They weenied, pure and simple- or as I suspect a lot more, for a variety of reasons, that this whole deal was a setup like OKC kaboom. I wonder if any folks got the whole thing on tape from trunk tracker scanners, and what was really going down, and who showed up in town just before this massacre, and what the cops were "ordered" to do or not sdo, and by whom, and when. Of course, we'll probably only get little snippets here and there, but the location, timing, results and probabilities all point to a situation a lot more complex than some PO'ed "kids". And as an aside, anyone who still uses the farce known as "public education" for their children is bordering on child neglect, my opinion only, of course. Hate to make blanket labels, because obviously there's some fine teachers out there, but the NEA is part of the reason why there were no armed teachers in that school at the time. It's a long time now, but I remember a teacher I had who carried concealed all the time-I "made" him once, and I told him his secret was safe, but he was concerned for the safety of his kids, and put his own freedom and career in jeopardy daily in order to be there should something like that ever had happened. And incidently, he was in the top handful of effective teachers I ever had, too. Of course again, there were some heroic teachers that day as well, who tried their best-but they were unarmed by law, and so ineffective in dealing with that kind of threat. Politically correct and apathy and mass media propoganda led to the majority of those deaths-not any inanimate objects, and it certainly wasn't the fault of the millions of people that day who were legal gun owners and carriers, but the pols and reporters and selected interviews are already pointing fingers. well, phooie on that.

-- zog (zog@avana.net), April 23, 1999.

What I don't understand is: why did those kids kill themselves, relatively early in their game, which by all reports they perceived as exhilirating and successful up to that point, when there was no immediate tactical pressure to do so ? Has anybody sniffed out this angle ? Were they hit by a sudden and unexpected wave of remorse or what ? From their point of view, why not fight it out to the end ? There didn't seem, again from their point of view, to be an immediate danger of capture either. What givezzzz here ?

-- Ct Vronsky (vronsky@anna.com), April 23, 1999.

Ct Vronsky:

Maybe the police pulled a "Vince Foster" on the perpetrators so as not to cost the county an undue amount of $ trying them only to see them spanked and turned loose in 5 to 10 yrs.

-- Charles R. (chuck_roast@trans.net), April 23, 1999.

Charles----If my memory serves me right, these young boys still had many bombs on them when their bodies were found. Doesn,t that seem a little strange. That old saying boys will be boys does not make sense. These kids spent time building these bombs, it would seem seeing that boys will be boys, that they would want to use these bombs and blow up as much of the school as possible. I cann't see them letting these bombs go to waste. Something does not seem right here.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 23, 1999.

analyze is spelt wrong.

agree with Dano - bookem.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 23, 1999.

Botched so badly makes me believe the famous "Boulder" Police department got there first! Reports indicate first cop in the door exchanged fire with shooters and even had time to radio to responding medical personnel to hold fast. So they knew almost immediately that they were students not terrorists. Students as a general rule aren't good shots, and probably weren't aiming, just shooting from the hip. so there was a window of opportunity to draw their fire, forcing them to focus on you, not others, and get them to expend their rounds so you can catch them while reloading. School and postal shootings should be in every law enforcement outfit in the countrys' "playbook" by now! They are almost becoming as regular as refinery explosions. Also, a complete and total news blackout is required for these horrendous events to ever stop. My guess is the first line supervisor ordered the first officers to wait. SWAT spent most of the time holding back freightened parents. Zog, it is like a bad scene from the "Sleeper" movie of years ago. One day earlier and would have been the Waco, Oklahoma City anniversary which was touted alot in the press earlier in the week, almost like an invitation for something bad to happen.

-- (snowleopard6@webtv.net), April 23, 1999.

Despite some minor experience as a tactician I will not criticize at this point. Not enough verifiable information. A lady representing MAVIS (Mothers Against Violence in Schools) was on the tube today. One of her issues was the amount of information on making bombs, etc, that can be obtained via the Internet. Folks, I can tell you that information was ALWAYS avaliable when I was in high school (60s). The problem is not and will never be control of information or weapons, the solution is in self control. An earlier and excellent posting referred to a sense of "unreality", as in when you shoot someone they are not REALLY dead. For this we must hold the purveyors of violence on TV, games, and in the movies responsible, and ourselves as parents if we let the kids watch. My dad was badly crippled in WW II and we were never a gun/hunting family. BUT with the BB gun we had he took pains to instill good safety habits in us. I cannot help but wonder why schools shy away from anything that would teach weapons safety in schools. NRA's Eddie Eagle program for one example. The Colorado tragedy is just part of a terrible darkness. Never give up for what is right and good. Pray for your country, folks.

-- Mr. Mike (mikeabn@aol.com), April 23, 1999.

It was a mulitjurisdictional response to what presented itself as a terrorist-like attack.

I suspect most of the professionals responding had little training or psychological preparation for this kind of experience.

Was their organization of command and control pre-determined before the call came? Did they have a single point of contact for logistical purposes? That would have been one hell of a time to be figuring out who should be doing what.

I know what it's like to get people to consent to the functional requirements of a multijurisdictional public safety software package. I doubt that agreeing on the rules of engagement would be any easier.

Thirty something years ago, I had a friend at the University of Texas lay wounded next to her dead partner for several hours... Damn, it seems like yesterday.

Pipe bombs...

I have to think some more about this.


-- Critt Jarvis (middleground@critt.com), April 23, 1999.

Most of you haven't been as observant of police (in general) when they have a "confrontational" situation , in these past 20 years. When they have the only guns, and KNOW IT, they are VERY BRAVE and violent to the perps. HOWEVER, when the perps have guns, there is great reluctance to move, amid much pants wetting. And there are the criminal defense lawyers, comunity "reaction" , plus their careers to think about. It takes time to sort this out, and see who is in "charge" ( read 'fall guy') at the scene. Digusting display of cowardness, for all to veiw !!! A Wise Man

-- A. Wiseman (Wiseman@proginy.com), April 23, 1999.

Well said Wiseman---During the L A Riots the police on the scene where non existant. Same during the Watts riots. There is a lesson to be learned here for Y2K. If it ever really gets bad as in riots etc. I don't think there would be a police pressence anywhere. We are all preparing and if we don't have some plan for the protection of our family with respect to lawlessness, we surely should rethink the situation.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 23, 1999.

If you plunge into a tactical situation without recon or intel, you can quickly fill a large number of body bags. The law enforcement officers had probably followed their playbook... secure the perimeter, gather intel, develop a tactical assault plan and attempt to establish comms with the hostage taker(s). While SWAT teams drill these scenarios, no amount of simulation can prepare a team for the chaos of the Colorado situation. Perhaps it is best to let the families and the nation mourn before we begin Monday Morning quarterbacking the HRT.


Mr. Decker

-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), April 23, 1999.

I aggree with you Mr Decker, but should it take four hours to clear the building of students, three hours after the last shots a fired. In the mean time people were bleeding to death.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 23, 1999.

What I don't understand is why these kids killed themselves THAT soon. True, their mission was probably a mission of death that they didn't intend to survive. BUT, they could have tripled their body count if they'd stuck around. Were they running out of ammo?

If I was them, I would have made sure my bombs exploded. Gone down to the cafeteria, detonated that 20 pound one myself if I had to. Maybe kicked -or shot- open the doors to the classrooms where people were hiding, killed some more people.

It's an anomaly. The only concievable reason for their killing themselves that soon was that they only had one bullet left each. And even then, they should have -I would have, if I'd been them with their objectives and mindset- gone down to the cafeteria and set off as many bombs as I could. Blown myself up in the process.


-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 23, 1999.

The fact that the guard came out of that building unscathed while 13 people were killed and 20 or so wounded is damning evidence of just how our society as a whole has changed. If this had happened even 15 years ago that guard would have either killed the attackers or been numbered among the victims with an empty pistol in his hand. You could probably overlook this and say well he just paniced, but the arriving officers allowed the wounded victims to lie in their and in some cases bleed to death for FOUR hours, even though there was no further gunfire for the last three. I thought those scenes of the billy bad ass ATF agents running like deer from the Branch Davidians were a fluke, but now I realize that we are recruiting a whole new personality type as police officers. The type commonly known as schoolyard bullies, who beat the crap out of the smaller kids, and show their true cowardice when faced with an equal opponent.

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), April 23, 1999.

I tossed this thought a couple threads ago. Want to understand how it works? Go to your PD and ask for a citizen ride-along. Most depts do it. Then, while riding, open a conversation about shoot- don't shoot scenarios and ask about their fun-house. Some depts use a funhouse, some use a new video/chronograph system. Get yourself invited to try it. You will die several times, after of course killing a few civilians in the first round or two.

These officers were presented with a situation which was NOT STATIC. A majority of the hostage situations are pretty much static, without lots of people running around inside, clouding the issue. Instant entry meaqns you have to do the shoot-no-shoot many many times within seconds, or pick out the perps in a croud, which they may be using as a screen, all the while THEY have no compunction about shooting because the "hostages" are theirs to dispose of.

Knowing that the perps had black trenchcoats on on the way in is actually a distraction. How many others had the same type of dress?? Would look REALLY dumb if you popped the 9 people wearing the black coats only to find that you got NONE of the perps as THEY dropped the coats some time ago.

It will be interesting to see just how many fingerprints are on the additional bombs, and how many of teh "good kids" turn out to have helped with this. It is HARD to accept that the kids brought all of the stuff in one trip to the school that day. And, i hope that ALL of the males have been parafinned ( or whatever the new blacklight wash is) just to see what shows.

We do not have enough info to do more than speculate generally (as above) at this point. It will bew interesting to see what develops.

Chuck, who understood fuel-air bombs and pipe bombs LONG before he found them on the internet. Or did someone happen to miss the significance of the propane tanks??

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 23, 1999.

Let me spell out what happened - some of you have been dancing around it, but here goes:

This was a planned event. The children involved as shooters were programmed to commit these acts. They were further programmed to kill themselves once they accomplished some or all of their mission. What this programming consisted of, I do not know, but it most likely involved the administration of behavioral drug, most likely Ritalin or Prozac, which affects the serotonin levels in the brain and can initiate extremely violent behavior. Perhaps they were given their instructions via hypnosis, NLP, subliminal messages on TV, I don't know, but I DO know that these shootings follow the pattern set by the Stockton schoolyard massacre in 1989... shooter enters public or semi-public area, kills more-or-less indiscrimately, then shoots self before or as soon as the police arrive. This has happened AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, and it is designed to create, with "assistance" from the media, such a climate of fear and terror that the public will BEG to be disarmed, or at the very least the massacres will act as a plausible reason to enact increasingly-implausible gun-control legislation. The ultimate aim is the total disarmament of the American people.

Neither is it a coincidence that tragedies (Waco, OKC, etc.) like this occur mainly in the spring. The evil people who are at the top of the political "food chain", the people who run things behind the scenes while giving us puppets like Clinton to vote for, worship a very different god than the God of the Bible. This god has variously been called Baal or Moloch. He demands sacrifice. Shedding of innocent blood in the spring of the year to assure fertility and prosperity is a form of "worship" for these people. Study the ancient Mystery religions for yourself, and you will find that they are astill being practiced - to our cost.

-- ,,,, (0@o.o), April 23, 1999.

Chuck, I think most everyone caught the signifigance of the propane tanks, these kids were serious as hell. The point I am trying to make above is that if the lead is actively flying, innocent people are dying and lying there bleeding to death, you don't have the luxury of assesing the situation. 35 or 40 people already down, firing continuing.. what the hell are you waiting on? There AINT GONNA BE ANY NEGOTIATIONS. THEY AINT STOPPING TILL EVERYBODY'S DEAD OR THEY ARE KILLED. If you hit a couple of civillians taking them out that's just the breaks. The bottom line is they didn't have the guts to do the job.

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), April 23, 1999.


I have done too much CISD to be quite as sanguine as you about colateral damage and law enforcement. I have also fed and watered too many SWAT guys and gals in hostage situations. I guess we'll just have to disagree.


-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 23, 1999.

Chuck, sorry if I stepped on some toes here, but I have been off this week watching this mess all day on television, and that is the take I have on it.

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), April 23, 1999.

The way I see it, the cops there were operating more like a military unit. Safety of the unit above all else.It seems that the Feds have now poisoned our local cops to the point where they won't enter a dangerous situation unless they are covered from head to toe in armor, have snipers in place, and have the perps outnumbered by 10 to 1. Two kids! The over training that cops get might be helping the cops protect themselves and each other, but they're only good for the property thefts of the bogus war on drugs if they can't jump in to return fire when children are being shot down in front of them.(no offense to you cops who still remember why you took the job) MJ

-- MJ (workshy@eagledesign.com), April 23, 1999.

Kind of reminds me of a similar situation in a McDonalds restaurant in San Diego years ago. There was a long time delay because the SWAT team had to change into their "Camis". Of course it was important because that way they would blend in to a parking lot scenario. As I recall many people who were wounded and dying could be heard screaming for help. To serve and protect. My ass.

-- 0300 (Marine Infantry@rest.com), April 24, 1999.

Some of you folks are throwing around "guts" mighty easily.

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), April 24, 1999.

Been there, don't wish to go back. The major problem at the school was NOT the street officers. Just like our country, IT'S THE LEADERSHIP, STUPID! Nobody in authority would exhibit any intestinal fortitude and make a decision.

Chuck and No Spam amen, bro.

-- Lobo (atthelair@yahoo.com), April 24, 1999.

Some of us folks were raised in the old school.

-- Nikoli Krushev (doomsday@y2000.com), April 24, 1999.

> Would police of 30 years ago have gone in ?

Interesting that the number 30 was chosen.

Almost exactly 30 years ago I WAS a cop.

It's a little too easy from the perspective of now to say "you beccha, I'da gone in there in a heart beat and shot those bastards..."

I do believe that if I were involved in a similar sityation now that that is exactly what I would do. But, I have lived a good portion of my life and also bocome much more of a hard ass in the interim.

I just can't say for sure what I would have done.

I do know this, I and many of my fellow officers put our lives on the line many times and in many ways. Anytime we knew we were going into harms way the common phrase used was "Well, boys this is what your bing paid for, now go earn your money."

I just don't know for sure, but I think I would have bailed right in there. I DO know for sure that if I had decided to that no commander or orders would have stopped me.

I have run all this through the criteria that we generally used and compared my thoughts with what I'm pretty sure all of my peers then would have said and come back to - yea, I think I would have. We all knew that we might be killed on any day at any hour, that goes with the territory.

But then again then we didn't have all the high tech protection the guys have now. I'd have to say that the odds are far in the favor of the cops now, if for no other reason that the equipment and superoir training they have.

Attitudes were entirely different then. I didn't then and absolutely don't now give an double extra-large rats ass that they were "kids". I just can't get my head around how an officer of the law (or any civilized citizen) can stand by and watch and hear what was going on in there and do nothing.


-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), April 24, 1999.

Is it just adrenalin, then, that makes real heroes without any training or protection or weaponry, like the unarmed high-school wrestler, already shot, who took down the shooter with a direct physical tackle in Oregon ?

-- blue himalayan (bh@k2.y), April 24, 1999.

I don't know if it's *just* adrenalin, but adrenalin sure helps.

It may also be worthy of note that if you are involved in shooting situations where you are one of those that may be shot and you do not experience some elevated level of adrenalin then I think you need to have either your glands or you mind checked - soon.

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), April 24, 1999.

I posted the following on another thread a few days ago. I'd add that patrol officers are invariably outgunned these days and that kevlar vests won't stop shrapnel from pipe bombs, nor sprays from semi-automatic fire aimed at the head or groin. Periodically our police officers receive information that a certain gang is looking to "take out a cop" by luring an officer into a shooting situation, where he/she can be ambushed. Indeed, attempts have been made--only bad shooting saved the officers (but not the patrol cars' windows and doors). Cops have been killed in this way in other cities and I'm sure Littleton police officers have heard the stories. Such is just one element creating confusion in the early part of a horrendous crisis situation such as Columbine.

In a hostage or stand-off situation, Standard Operating Procedure is for SWAT and hostage negotiators to be called in--patrol officers would have been ordered to wait for the specialists while maintaining the status quo. (Please see below for further explanation.) My experience and knowledge is also based upon riding with police officers in three different cities, particularly here in Durham where I ride regularly and have LEO friends; due to go again the 2nd weekend in May. Here's the post, with newer comments in brackets.

Some of you know that I work as a "stringer" for a local newspaper and a Raleigh TV station, reporting on the police beat, hence I can answer some questions about SWAT.

Police budgets being what they are, very few cities can afford to have a SWAT team on stand-by. In fact, I don't know any that can--maybe LA. Members of SWAT are regular police officers who work regular shifts. When a stand-off or hostage situation or the like arises those officers may be on duty on the other side of town, training as a group at a special place miles away, sleeping so they can work that night, on a day off at home 50 miles away, or shopping at a mall in another city.

Special SWAT clothing and equipment, in this city anyway, is kept in lockers at police HQ; it's not kept at home or in personal vehicles for obvious reasons. [SWAT members do not pause simply to don camos or black jumpsuits, they have special sniper rifles, stun, smoke and tear-gas grenades, infra-red devices, sensitive microphones to hear through walls, and other miscellanous special equipment not normally carried by a patrol officer.]

In the case of a small rural town in Colorado [always supposing they even have a team], SWAT team members could be fishing in the mountains, shopping in Denver, whatever. It takes time to get all essential members of the team together and brief them. There is usually no more than one sharpshooter to a team. I understand four separate SWAT teams were assembled at Columbine; I suspect at least two of those teams, if not three, were called in from Denver or other municipalities. [Now knowing the size of the town, they may not even HAVE a SWAT team, probably not more than one anyway.] TV reports said it was two hours before SWAT teams went in. I consider that quite fast, considering teams were apparently called in from some distance.

Plans of the building (if it's large and complicated like Columbine school) or at least accurate sketches from a knowledgeable person, are necessary before SWAT members can go in. This is Standard Operating Procedure gleaned from hundreds of hours of experience and training. You have to remember that the shooters knew the layout intimately, SWAT members probably have never been inside, particularly those not drawn from the local community.

Standard OP is also to remove all mobile victims from the area, no matter what, for at least three reasons. [A poster had complained that students were made to leave their wounded friends.] One, their chances of survival are improved if they're taken to a place of safety (they can do little to help their fallen friends); two (particularly in this situation) SWAT doesn't know who's friend and who's foe--the shooters could be pretending to aid victims; and three, the kids could have been used as hostages.

In situations such as the Columbine shootings, the shooters usually do not commit suicide and negotiations may be necessary. They often take hostages and such was reported at one point. Again, SOP dictates removing to a place of safety all non-SWAT persons from the scene. Additionally, when SWAT team members recognized explosive devices (booby traps) they withdrew and called in the Bomb Squad. Some cross-training may go on but, again, SOP is to let the experts handle those elements in the field of their expertise. A police spokesperson said the Bomb Squad has found 12 booby traps so far, two of them attached to cars in the parking lot, and their search was not yet complete, as of midnight EST.

How much do these folks get paid? I suspect most cities come pretty close to what Durham pays. Cops start at just under $25k per year. After eight years, they're making $38k. It's usually the younger guys who qualify for SWAT, their reflexes and eyesight being better. Also they aren't quite as worried about getting one through the forehead. Whether it's enough money to risk your life or not is a whole nother debate.

Although there was no metal detector in place at the school, I doubt it would have made any difference. When someone is intent on blowing away large numbers of people, not much will stop them. {SNIP}

[New] Now you all can Monday-morning quarterback and wallow in hindsight all you want, but there's nobody doing it any better or more frequently than those cops themselves. I can predict this: a very high proportion of the police officers involved, SWAT or not, will commit suicide. Even more will undergo long counseling. They will suffer nightmares for years. Not many will come through unscathed.

I know many of you are angry and grieved and you feel helpless because surely YOU would have done SOMEthing if you'd been there. Don't you think there were people in the community--parents, for instance--who felt even more strongly than you? But they knew there was nothing they could do, that law enforcement was doing the best it could. Let's at least wait for an inquiry before passing judgment.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), April 24, 1999.

From an aspect of where the kids are coming from, it would be interesting to see their URLs and personal sites. That is where the answers to this will be.

The net is more "personal" than we understand.

-- Brian (imager@ampsc.com), April 24, 1999.

I was a cop in LA from 1962 till 1983. I have participated in many riots and hostage situations. I do not think the police in my day would have acted in the way I saw them act in Denver that day. In all probability, we would have gone in. We had no lady cops to worry about. Our supervisors could be counted on to back us up if there was big f ck up. The press would have been kind to us. We were heros in those days and behaved as such.

Police are trained to act independantly, not as a group. A good cop thinks he and he alone knows how to handle a specific situation. That is why we usually stink at crowd control and riots. The military on the other hand is trainded to act as a unit. They excell in such situations.

New thinking has come to law enforcement since I retired. In my day, if some "anal orfice" didn't come to the door, thats all it was, just some jerk who wouldn't come to the door. Now, it's, "Call out the swat team" and people die.

I heard a caller on a talk show who ID'd himself as a retired NYC fireman say that if that were a burning building instead of a besieged school, and children were on fire inside, there would be no hesitation to go in, even if there were explosives and super heated air to contend with.

The Colorado cops acted exactly the way they were trained to act. No cop died. No cop or jurisdiction will get sued. The excersize was a success. Thats the way it is these days. I shudder to think what will happen if instead of two screwed up kids, it is 5 battle hardened, trained soldiers. Cops are no match against such a force. Thats not what cops do, no matter how much federal money is spent trying to turn them into soldiers. Sorry this got so long.

Bill in South Carolina

-- Bill Solorzano (notaclue@webtv.net), April 24, 1999.

Bill, the cops in your day didn't have to face bombs and heavy weapons on a daily basis, as attested to by the fact that they didn't wear bulletproof vests on a daily basis--did anyone you know even own one? Cops no longer carry those old .38 Police Specials, they carry .9mms, still not sufficient to combat what they face.

The fire analogy quickly loses relevance when you realise there is no-one inside that burning bulding throwing bombs and shooting at cops from cover they know intimately. Many cops are also National Guard or Reserve and/or ex-military. They ARE trained to act together these days, at least in the three cities of which I have personal knowledge. A lot has changed in police procedure in the 16 years since you were on the force, as it has in the crime scene in general. Used to be the murder of a cop would be reported nationwide. Nowadays, it's so common it doesn't even warrant a tiny para on page 16.

We now have a female police chief in Durham. In contrast to the last two (both male--the first was fired after a call-girl ring was found operating out of 911), the second retired in disgrace, among other things for active and blatant anti-female and anti-white bias and for a drug-ring operating out of 911. Since our new female police chief came in, we've seen crime go down and no scandals out of HQ. The last chief didn't wear uniform and refused to have a radio or pager in his city-supplied vehicle. In one hostage situation that I remember, it was five hours before he could be reached. The new police chief is very proactive, wears a uniform, can be reached any time, has no hesitation in handling a fender-bender on the way home, and--the cops love her for this--has returned to the less-wearing and highly popular duPont work schedule. Excepting crooks, there is no one in this southern-belle-loving/redneck city who would swap Theresa Chambers for anyone else.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), April 24, 1999.

I was out of town when this thing happened. Listened to the news reports and all. When I got home my wife and I talked a little about the situation and then she said, "I've been wondering if there was any gun law situations happening in Colorado?" When I told her that there was but now that this happened the sponsors of the Right to Carry Bill have taken it off the books. It was reported to have been a done deal. My wife responded, "it seems too coincidental."

I am a little suspicious of coincidences and would like to know more about these kids and all involved. My wife was married to a CA Highway Patrolman, their house was shot up once when she was home alone with her kids. She now works as a massuese and is almost apolitical. Very intuitive though!

-- Just wondering (wondering@california.peace), April 24, 1999.

You'd think (rationally) the Carry law would now have a GREATER chance of passing, not less...

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), April 24, 1999.

Bill---Your quote "The Colorado cops acted exactlythe way they were trained to act. No cops died. No cops or jurisdiction will get sued. The exercize was a success" How true but what a sad commentary on our society. No one sued but some laid there and bleed to death.

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 24, 1999.

This is for Andy:

"analyze is spelt wrong."

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 23, 1999.

Analyze WAS spelled correctly. Spelt on the other hand is rarely used these days. (Spelled) British humor? :-)

-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), April 24, 1999.

Interesting thread. My husband and I were just discussing it today before I came online. Obviously I'm not qualified to comment intelligently on the "police action", but I'm still interested in the suicide of the two shooters.

I find it somewhat weird that no one reported seeing the kids kill themselves. When did it happen? Normally it cases like this it is described in detail how the shooters put the guns to their heads and pull the trigger. Since there were two of them, it would seem someone would have mentioned a discussion between the two, etc...

And I also wondered why they checked out (thankful though I am that they did) while they still had live targets to shoot at. Even writing this is disgusting, but the questions remain.

-- LindaO (stillaquestion@hotmail.com), April 24, 1999.

we have to remember that police have become creatures of beauracracy,in a hostage situation,police have very specific policies that they MUST adhere to,we pay police to follow rules not act like heros a nation dirty harry's is not what we want or need

-- zoobie (zoob@aol.com), April 24, 1999.

LindaO --- According to TV reports last night the two boys killed themselves in the library. The library was the last to have the students evacuated. That would mean the students were in the library at the time the boys killed themselves. Did any of these students see this happen? Having gone thru the spin of Klinton and the spin of Y2K I wonder is there a spin here and if so "why"?

-- thinkIcan (thinkIcan@make.it), April 24, 1999.

This Forum is always ahead of the curve with keen observations, questions, suspicions, opinions  :-)

If one goes thru all related threads in chronological order, one can clearly see Yourdynamites' collective prescience.

Finally here the media is starting to play catch-up:

Did Rescue Take Too Long?

[ For Educational Purposes Only ]

Did Rescue Take Too Long?

SWAT Team Under Fire From Some Families

Some parents are complaining that police took too long to free the students of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

By John Miller, ABCNEWS.com
N E W Y O R K, April 22  After an initial gun battle, it was three hours before police SWAT teams began freeing students and teachers from Columbine High School, where 14 students and one teacher were killed Tuesday.

Some family members of the victims are finding it difficult to accept police assertions that they needed that much time to contain the scene and plan their entry. Among these are family members of teacher Dave Sanders, who bled to death despite students efforts to save him.  [ for 3 hours ]

If SWAT had gotten him out of there, he could have made it, says sister-in-law Melody Smith. It seems kind of senseless. It didnt have to happen.

Across the country, police tactical experts were divided  some said that containment and a slow, measured approach was standard SWAT procedure:

Had they moved quickly inside that building and perhaps detonated one of those explosive devices, more lives would have been lost, says Jack Glick of the National Tactical Officers Association.

We gotta say to ourselves, they could have been our children in there; would we have went in for our children? asks Jack Maple, a former New York City deputy police commissioner who advises police in other cities on tactics. When you have children dying, there is no other thing the police can do  they must go in, even if it means some of them die.

For Littleton, Colo., these are painful questions. And as this horror is re-examined in every detail, in tactical studies and later in civil suits, the answers wont come quickly or easily.

xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 24, 1999.

When did the kids evacuate? If the exit route they took was unsafe, why were they directed to take it? If safe enough for kids to exit, couldn't police/fbi entrance have been made via the same route? I think the anology about fireman responding (daily) in similar "explosive" situations was appropriate. In retrospect, _they_ would have saved the teacher --- at a minimum.

-- A. Hambley (a.hambley@usa.net), April 24, 1999.

And this is why, as Old Git has pointed out, some of the SWAT officers and others will slide into depression, perhaps even suicide. They will be asking themselves exactly the same questions, and the answers will, for some, be utterly acceptable.

Red Cross training recommends that all responders to a critical incident avail themselves of counseling, or at least a de-briefing and "vent session" in order to avoid emotional stress issues. This is just for people who are in the "emergency care-giving" business (paramedics, EMTs, etc.) Imagine what it must be like when someone is supposed to risk their life and rescue a bunch of kids, and they can't do it, for whatever reasons.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), April 24, 1999.

Mac, I just read an article on MSNBC that said there were more suicides among the rescuers first on the scene in Oklahoma City, than there were among the victims themselves. Sad!

-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), April 24, 1999.


I am always extremely hesitant to play monday morning quarterback on these sorts of things. Before anyone starts playing guessing games, I'd suggest we wait and find out exactly what information was available to the decision makers and when it became available.

I'm not saying it could have been handled better, and I'm not saying it couldn't...only that it is both unrealistic and unfair to attempt to judge the SWAT teams' responses without knowing what they knew and when they knew it.

Just my 2 cents' worth,


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), April 24, 1999.

the initial counseling is called Critical Incident Stress Management Defusing. later will be a CISM Debriefing. Even later will be f=referrals through the PD's EAP. HOPEFULLY, they will save some of them. The duration, outcome, and screwed up closure will NOT help the officers. Been through the Peer training, Team Training, and a couple defusings. These are NOT FUN but DO WORK. HOPEFULLY, at least one of teh SWAT teams had a SWAT MEDIC (EMT-P-T) on board and that they were able to set up Mitchel Model sessions.

Chuck, Got Peers? Got Choir Practices? Got Counselors?

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 24, 1999.

The suicide is too weird. Maybe the kids were shot by some school staff person who was packing. Thus, an argument FOR concealed carry, and likely to be hushed up by TPTB. Yeah I know I've got black helicopters in my head. Spare me.

-- Ct Vronsky (vronsky@anna.com), April 24, 1999.

Some of the posters above are assuming the two shooters acted rationally at all times during the event. Critiquing their procedures from a logical, uninvolved standpoint is not likely to provide insight.

There are student reports that they were laughing as they shot people. I would expect that as the slaughter progressed they became more and more disoriented and irrational.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), April 25, 1999.

Tom, that thought is scary because it's logical.

-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 25, 1999.

Yes, Tom, maybe they shot each other !

-- Ct Vronsky (vronsky@anna.com), April 25, 1999.

cops: "we'll stay out here where it's safe. Too bad those kids inside are dying, but we'll stay outside where we'll be safe. Hey, look, here's an expired inspection sticker--anyone gotta ticket pad?" They love to bully us, swagger around with their sidearms, treat us all like criminals, but when kids are dying, everyone could see what the brave and mighty cops did. Nothing.

-- Spidey (in@jam.com), April 25, 1999.

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