Dealing with a coordinated, multiple-location terrorist attack

Multiple Attack Counter Terror Action Capabilities — or MACTAC — is a blend of USMC fire-team tactics and current Police active shooter tactics


Editor's Note: We’re pleased to welcome Jeremy Stafford as the newest member in our growing roster of writers. Stafford is a Police Officer with the LAPD — on the job for more than 12 years — who previously served 13 1/2 years in the United States Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve. Two of the major projects that Stafford has recently spearheaded include the MACTAC (Multiple Attack Counter Terrorism Action Capability) course, which he helped write, and the 2010 Firearms Delivery Plan, which radically changes the way that LAPD’s firearms program is delivered from recruit training to instructor certification.

“Everything’s going to change.” Those were the words that Bill Murphy, longtime Huntington Beach SWAT Cop and Gunsite Rangemaster said to me as we watched the coverage of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on the TV in the Gunsite Instructors’ cabin in early December of that year. Boy was he right. A couple weeks after that exchange I was called into my Captains office and assigned a new collateral duty, I would be working on a regional response to just such an attack. It was going to be called MACTAC and it was going to control my life for the next six months.

The first meeting went remarkably smooth, given the number of type A personalities in the room. The initial concept, as laid out by Lt. Pete Zarcone and Officer Joe Witty, was fairly straightforward — a blend of USMC fire-team tactics and current Police active shooter tactics. Overseeing the project was Deputy (now Assistant) Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur, and she was adamant that not only should the tactics be easy to teach, but they should also be principle based, so that any agency, regardless of size, could adopt them.

When we pressed the Chief about the title of MACTAC, she laughed and told us that (then) Chief Bratton told her that she had five minutes to come up with a title, because he had to brief the Police Commission. Given the short period of time she had, Multiple Attack Counter Terror Action Capabilities is actually pretty good, and the Chief got a laugh out of all of us. We were briefed by our Counter Terror staff on the specifics of the Mumbai attack, and then started discussing our current state of readiness. Patrol rifles were a concern as were trauma kits and hard armor. As important as the equipment pieces were, they were dwarfed by the training issue in front of us.

MACTAC was designed from its inception to be a multi-jurisdictional response, not just an LAPD response plan. Unlike many other regions in the U.S., the Los Angeles region sprawls across a wide geographic area, often with smaller cities with their own Governments and services lying within the borders of the larger cites. With that in mind, SMEs from the entire region began attending the series of early development meetings that the LAPD hosted. We had representatives from Las Vegas Metro, LASO, Orange County SO, School Police, and numerous local Municipalities in attendance.

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