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.

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.

Law enforcement officials process the crime scene Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Odessa, Texas, from Saturday's shooting which ended with the alleged shooter being shot dead by police in a stolen mail van, right. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Law enforcement officials process the crime scene Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Odessa, Texas, from Saturday's shooting which ended with the alleged shooter being shot dead by police in a stolen mail van, right. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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.

[Read: Rapid response: 7 early observations from the Midland and Odessa shootings]

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