How law enforcement can prepare for mobile killers
The Midland and Odessa shootings on August 31, 2019, show just how difficult it can be for law enforcement to stop a highly mobile killer.
The suspect in Texas was highly mobile, leaving a trail of mayhem behind him as he drove through two different jurisdictions and fired on innocents at no less than 15 different locations.
We also saw a similar situation with the JC Kosher Supermarket Attack on December 10, 2019, when two killers murdered a police officer and then drove a stolen vehicle to a nearby market where they killed three individuals.
If one reckless, impulsive spree killer could cause this much of a disruption in an area that’s not densely populated, imagine what a team of disciplined attackers with an organized plan could do, as they struck geographically separated targets, simultaneously, in a heavily populated urban area. Such Complex, Coordinated Attacks (CCAs) have the potential to paralyze large urban centers, and we need to have a plan for how we will combat them.
Agencies need to consider:
- Plans for alternative deployment routes when major arteries are clogged;
- Plans for redirecting traffic and unplugging major transportation arteries;
- Alternative transportation methods (aircraft, boats, motorcycles, bicycles, foot deployment, etc.) when normal patrol and tactical vehicles can’t get through;
- Dispersing assets (personnel, facilities, vehicles) so that your entire force isn’t trapped behind a single chokepoint;
- Tactics for rapidly deploying officers to likely targets in advance of a mobile killer;
- Tactics for establishing perimeters and nets along likely travel routes to catch the mobile killer;
- Ensuring communication systems are robust enough to handle a flood of 911 calls in the killer’s wake;
- Ensuring radio and data systems are robust enough to handle a surge of activity without melting down;
- Ensuring personnel are trained in good radio discipline, to keep busy frequencies usable;
- Ensuring that mutual aid plans are in good order, and include several layers for the event that primary resources are unavailable to respond, because they’re similarly committed.