The Pulse night club massacre in Orlando was the worst Islamic terrorist attack in the United States since the morning of September 11, 2001. 49 people died in the attack, and 53 were injured.
Transcripts of 911 calls from inside Pulse revealed that as Orlando police commanders held their men back, multiple victims slowly bled out while begging for help from 911 dispatchers.
Over the course of the three-hour ordeal, Orlando law enforcement displayed questionable marksmanship and very suspect leadership.
Put bluntly, the Orlando law enforcement response to the Pulse attack was the most inept response to a mass shooting since Columbine, and completely ignored the lessons of that event. It’s stunning that Police Chief John Mina hasn’t been fired after insisting their officers “did a good job,” despite command-level decisions that run counter from everything we know about how to respond to both active shooters and Islamic terrorists.
Now Orlando Police Chief Mina is joining a delegation of police chiefs headed to Israel to learn from Israeli counter-terrorism experts, but still can’t seem to grasp how how poor Orlando’s leadership was in response to this attack.
In one breath, Mina notes that the Israelis—like law enforcement agencies around the world, including many in the United States, have a pretty good idea on how to handle Orlando-type attacks.
I like the way the Israeli Police pretty much go right after the threat, and in the US we are heading in the same direction, especially with our situation. Also, over here they don’t negotiate [with terrorists], and I think that’s the way to go.
Counterterrorism experts have been warning American law enforcement about the threat of terrorist attacks for years.
Most competent American tactical officers and leaders are already well aware of how you should handle a mass shooting since Columbine, and Islamic terror attacks by learning from the Beslan school massacre (2004), Mumbai (2008), the Westgate Mall attack (2013), and the Bataclan attacks in Paris (2015).
All of these events were far more complex than what was encountered in Orlando.
As police chief and 17 year SWAT veteran of a major international tourist destination that features multiple sites known as prime terrorist targets, Mina should have been ready. Orlando police leadership should have been more than ready to handle a single security guard turned terrorist with no tactical training, who was armed with common semi-automatic firearms.
They clearly weren’t.
They clearly still aren’t, and while Mena says that he likes the way Israeli counterterrorism works (you don’t negotiate with terrorists, you blow through them), he still can’t admit the shortcomings of his own response.
For us, this went from an active-shooter situation to a barricaded gunman holding hostages to a terrorist situation within the first hour. From my perspective, I think our police response was good and we saved many, many people from inside the Pulse Night Club. But there will always be situations where, as we compile more information, we will certainly share it [with the public].
Chief Mina should probably have been terminated by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer after the attack, but that would mean that Mayor Dyer would have to admit that his city was not ready for an attack much less complex than the kind of attacks experts and even well-educated amateurs have been warning us about for years.
Unfortunately, we’re certainly going to see attacks much more complex and devastating than Orlando, where a team (or teams) of terrorists puts together a complex attack that includes multiple targets, pre-staged ambushes of first responders, and the eventual (secret) deployment of U.S. military counterterrorism units to clean up the mess after hundreds are dead and maybe thousands are injured.
The counterterrorism experts in the 2014 “We’re not ready” video (above) have talked until they are blue in the face. It seems as if it’s going to take something far more devastating than Orlando—and citizen holding their civil leaders responsible instead of scapegoating the NRA and gnu owners— to get police chiefs and mayors to finally develop the political will to tackle such situations with the sudden, overwhelming force required to bring these situations to a sudden, violent end that will ultimately save lives.