WASHINGTON – More than a year after the Navy Yard shootings, the District’s police chief is sharing lessons learned from the response and investigation.
Chief Cathy Lanier highlighted some of the challenging and unexpected take-aways from the shootings Monday with representatives from companies and universities interested in better preparing for an active shooter scenario.
At one point during the September 2013 rampage, which killed 12 people, someone pulled the fire alarm. Lanier says that helped get potential victims out of the building. However, she says the alarm itself presented other challenges.
“The problem was, it made it very, very distracting and difficult for the officers inside to hear the radio and for us to hear their transmissions,” Lanier told the group at a luncheon at George Washington University.
The Metropolitan Police Department is three-quarters of the way through implementing the 77 recommendations to improve its response to such events. One recommendation was to identify the closed circuit security system in place.
“It’s not just military bases. There are closed campus universities that have their own security, and their own dispatch and their own call centers. And so we’ve addressed it at all those closed campuses in the District,” she says.
Another lesson learned, Lanier says, was to challenge the department’s assumptions.
She ran MPD’s active shooter training at locations around the city for years. While the department had worked with the Navy Yard in the past, she says the department never trained inside the Navy Yard walls.
“We made the mistaken assumption that it’s a military base and everyone inside has to be armed,” Lanier says.
But only a dozen people were, she says.