BUCK: Let’s start with John in Miami, Florida, who was a retired Miami PD SWAT commander. John, thanks for calling in.
CALLER: Good afternoon, gentlemen.
BUCK: John, what do you think? What do you think about what happened here?
CLAY: Break it down for us.
CALLER: Okay. That was my career path. I’m pro-police, obviously. However, I don’t know all the facts yet, but if there was armed security or, better yet, armed personnel, police, on the scene, they needed to engage that individual immediately.
Obviously, he’s got a rifle. You know he’s a threat. You need to engage. If he gets away from them, he goes into the room, the classroom, break into the classroom then. You cannot wait.
SWAT typically has two MOs. You can’t wait for SWAT. That’s an active shooter situation for sure. Deliberate action plan where you have time to plan, okay, and an immediate action plan, which is that the active shooter. We have to respond and act immediately.
I don’t know what the facts are yet, okay? They’re doing their investigation. They should have had it out already. But you engage. You got a gun and a package, you’re getting paid the big bucks, the pension, you gotta go ahead and act. This is game time now. Now is when you got to earn your keep.
CLAY: And from your perspective also obviously they know the gunshots are going on. So this is not some sort of hostage situation, right? How does hearing gunfire from inside of the school from a SWAT perspective also change your analysis in terms of making a decision?
CALLER: It’s a green light, sir. Let’s say, for example, I have a hostage situation which I’ve handled several, yeah, we’re gonna go ahead and negotiate, we have to assemble the team, bring in the hostage negotiator so they can go ahead and establishment dialogue, kind of talk the guy down.
But there’s a point in time if he quits talking to you, you got like less than 30 seconds to go ahead and break in because he’s gonna kill himself or kill people there, okay? That’s standard National Tactical Officers Association training. That’s 101. If you hear gunfire, you gotta go. There’s no doubt what’s going on.
BUCK: John. Oh, go ahead, Clay.
CLAY: No. I was just gonna say, is there any possibility that you end up with a paralysis over who’s in control in a situation like this when you have people responding to a gun potential situation in a school, how does the command structure potentially work?
CALLER: Listen. You typically have — and, you know, I did field operations. Obviously, my thing was SWAT. But I worked regular patrol for years. You’re typically gonna have the supervisor respond ASAP over there. But the officers should have enough common sense to go ahead and whatever happens, okay, on the scene there, you’re gonna be the eyes and ears for your sergeant and for the command and say this is what’s going on. But it comes to the point where you have to act. You cannot — that’s why you’re getting paid the big bucks.
BUCK: Yeah, John, that’s my sense of it. And every law enforcement officer I’ve talked to off line so far feels that way. John, thank you for serving your community and for your expertise today on the show. Appreciate you down in Miami.
Marie in northern Idaho, retired police officer and school resource officer. Marie, please weigh in.
CALLER: Hi, guys. John is absolutely correct. The current training as of two years ago — I retired then — is the first officer on a scene hears shooting, he goes in, takes out the gunman. And it doesn’t matter if he has to walk over wounded kids, screaming, crying kids — I mean, that sounds really harsh. But you got to go straight to the shooter and you take him out. You don’t stop. You don’t pause. You just go hard and fast and take him out.
CLAY: Marie, did you work inside of a school as an armed security? Is that what you did?
CALLER: I did. I worked as a school resource officer; so I did a lot of training.
CLAY: Thank you for doing that job. It’s very important. My kids have an armed police officer inside of their school every day. They love her. She’s widely loved inside of the school.
CALLER: Every school should have one.
CLAY: When you hear that school resource officer who was armed confronted this guy and yet he still somehow ended up in the school. What is your analysis of that kind of situation? How did that happen?
CALLER: Well, it’s hard to know without knowing the facts, but it sounds like he didn’t do his job, because if he’d done his job the gunman would be dead or the officer would be at least wounded, because if you got a shooter coming in and he had a long gun.
BUCK: Yeah, he definitely knew — the shooter definitely came in —
CLAY: He was hiding that.
BUCK: — clearly with ill intent, yeah.
CALLER: Yeah. Yeah.
BUCK: Marie, thank you again, knowing the procedures, knowing what people are trained in, rather, is so important in this moment to be able to assess properly what happened here. Thank you so much, Marie, thank you for serving your community.
Clay, rarely is there audio that I think, honestly, it’s too much to play to the show at this point in time. And when you hear these parents. People could disagree with me on that, but it’s just heartbreaking.
CLAY: They’re begging the officers to go in. And if they won’t go in, to let them go in. And, you know, I mean, I tell you this, I have an uncle that’s retired LAPD web spent his career the LAPD. I think even now as a retired LAPD officer, I’d bet my life that if he had the opportunity he’d go in there and I know all the law enforcement officers listening right now would say, I would go in there.
So why didn’t this happen? And no one has called in yet to say this don’t sound like a break down in procedure, doesn’t sound like there was some problem you. So if there is something we’re missing, please let us know.
Dustin in San Antonio. He’s got tactical experience with the 82nd Airborne. Thanks, Dustin. Thanks for calling in.
CALLER: Hey, guys, I just want to say real quick, you make dynamic entry by any means possible, by force, however you need to get to that active shooter and the threat, neutralize it by any means possible.
BUCK: Yeah. That’s the training as far as I know.
CLAY: To your point, Dustin, when you’re hearing the gunshots — again I understand there are people out there say, “Oh, this could be a hostage situation,” but when there she gunshots going off inside of a school classroom, I don’t see how your immediate response isn’t, “We gotta be in there now we gotta go.” Is that what you typically have been trained, Dustin?
CALLER: Yeah. If there’s active gunshots, he’s no longer keeping people in a hostage situation. In my opinion, he’s executing people, and you need to neutralize that threat by any means necessary as soon as possible.
BUCK: I mean, Dustin, also, they certainly had over a hundred officers is what has been officially reported on scene for over an hour, but even in those earlier moments, I mean, one guy with a rifle barricaded I know is a difficult situation, but if you have four or five trained people in a stack, I mean, isn’t that, you know, room entry is what they do, isn’t it?
CALLER: Basic room entry, in my experience by any police officer, they go through basic room entries and clearing. SWAT teams go through numerous training hours of room-clearing entries. And if you have multiple people and multiple agencies on site, surround the location, make multiple entries into different points, and go towards the threat.
BUCK: Dustin, again if anyone has something else they want to add in to this, it sounds like there’s a pretty clear consensus that there was at least a breakdown in procedure here.
Dustin, thank you for your service, sir. Thank you for calling in from San Antonio.
One or more before we have to go into a break here for a moment. Sean in Belhaven, North Carolina. Sean, you’re a former cop and paramedic. What do you think?
CALLER: I agree with everyone that has spoken so far. I think the one thing everyone’s missing is Ferguson, George Floyd. Every cop has been demonized, and in the back of their head, for even that split second, it’s, “If I discharge my weapon, am I going to jail?”
And, God forbid, if I discharge my weapon and I hit one of these children that I protect every day, and that’s where the pause comes in, I believe.”
CLAY: That’s worth mentioning.
BUCK: Yeah. Yeah.
CLAY: I mean, I think that is worth mentioning that there are psychological impacts to turning in the space of a few years police, are heroes into police are all awful human beings who are trying to take lives.
BUCK: Sean, thank you.
CLAY: It’s a good call.
BUCK: Thank you for calling in from North Carolina.