As the discussion of how to “reimagine” policing in America continues unabated, one CNN analyst thinks she hit on a problem: too many police departments.
Juliette Kayyem is a former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary. She appeared with former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe to discuss a new report by a Texas House Committee investigating the infuriating law enforcement response to the May 24 shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde Texas where 19 children and two teachers were gunned down.
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Besides the basics of ensuring locked doors and following active shooter protocol already in place, both agreed that a huge failure was that, of the roughly 20 law enforcement agencies and 400 officers who responded to the scene, no one from any of those agencies stepped up to assume incident command leadership of the situation.
Something that is supposed to be fairly old hat, 20 years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
McCabe described the “Incident Command System,” (ICS). This is where all law enforcement on the scene:
“…gather together so they can all understand the situation with the same information, and they can make decisions quickly and direct their own troops. You also then nominate a tactical commander, who is, in this case, going to be the person inside the school, who is telling the operators where to stack up, what equipment they should have, and telling them to go assault the classroom.”
In the end, responding law enforcement ignored their training, according to McCabe:
“None of those things happened here because it was a complete failure to follow the incident command structure, which, again, is something that is trained to every level of police department across the country.”
The revelations about what happened that day only grow more infuriating.
As The Political Insider’s Rusty Weiss has chronicled:
No doubt, more revelations are to come.
Back on CNN, Kayyem mentioned the sheer number of law enforcement agencies who responded to the scene. She agreed with McCabe’s notion that the Incident Command System is well-known, and should even be “plug and play.”
Kayyem went to explain why the hundreds of federal agents didn’t step up to lead:
“Part of that is that there’s a strong deferential allegiance to the local first responders, and then state, then federal, that’s just the way we think about it… In those instances where you have a breakdown of local command authority, what would trigger the federal response?
“One of the things we say is that there’s 20 law enforcement agencies in this small little community in Texas. One of the reasons… why training is failing, is because, honestly, we have too many police departments in this country.”
She went on to ask if each school district needs its own police department, with their own separate jurisdiction, or if that just confuses the matter.
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It’s difficult to square the rhetoric around policing in this country. Have any public figures called for heads to roll among those responsible at Uvalde?
Back in May, Democrats introduced a bill called the “Counseling Not Criminalization” Act. The bill would prohibit the used of federal funds for maintaining police in schools.
The bill was also intended to “help schools hire counselors, social workers, and other support personnel instead of police.”
A Washington Post report stated that the Uvalde school district had similar plan in place that, “included school counselors, social workers and special ‘threat assessment teams’ intended to evaluate students who appear to be a threat to themselves or others.”
The shooter had displayed disturbing behavior at least year before the shooting, even being nicknamed “school shooter” by his fellow online gamers.
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While crime statistics in nearly every major American city are skyrocketing, others are still clinging steadfastly to the ideology of “reimagining” policing. Certainly, some sort of large scale consolidation along the lines of what Kayyem was talking about would fit under “reimagining.”
If the local police are unaccountable, as seems to be the case in tiny Uvalde, Texas, how would an even larger government organization increase accountability?
In West Hollywood, an affluent community in Los Angeles county, recently voted to decrease the budget of the Sheriff’s Department.
West Hollywood has seen an astounding 137% increase in crime, but that is not stopping those whose “reimagining” law enforcement includes the reallocating of the funds that would have gone to the Sheriff’s Department going instead to something called, “Block by Block,” which will staff “Security Ambassadors,” unarmed of course, who will keep watch over the city.
Councilwoman Lindsey P. Horvath said, “Prioritizing people’s safety doesn’t just mean people with badges and guns on the street.”
Juliette Kayyem wrapped up her assessment of what went wrong in Uvalde by making a statement that, although true, may not get her invited back to CNN. While speaking of the lack of command leadership on the scene in Uvalde, she stated,
“I don’t want to say it’s the original sin, of course the shooter is the original sin, it is something you see from the very moment they can’t fix. They can’t get ahead of that original failure.”
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