Navy Yard police union: Staffing cuts slowed response

WASHINGTON – The union representing civilian police officers at the Washington Navy Yard says the base was undermanned because of budget cuts related to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Anthony Meely, of the Fraternal Order of Police Navy District Washington, says the Navy Yard Police were supposed to have 11 officers on duty at the security gates and on patrol, but at the time of Monday’s shooting they only had six.

“For about a year, we have had minimum manning,” Meely says. “There’s been a hiring freeze for about three years.”

Meely says the response to the shooting in Building 197 was slowed because officers’ vehicles have been re-assigned to a canine unit. Several officers had to run across the campus, instead of driving, once the shooting began.

One of the officers, Richard Ridgel, 52, of Westminster, Md., was among the 12 people killed when Aaron Alexis opened fire with a shotgun.

Captain Ed Buclatin, a spokesman for the Navy Yard, says Meely’s numbers are not accurate, but he could not provide a different number.

Ed Ziegler, a spokesman for the Naval District of Washington, says they are concentrating now on helping victims and all security issues will be part of the review ordered by the Secretary of Defense.

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