Don't rush to judge officers in Takoma Park standoff
I am happy to hear the police are going to review the shooting incident in the Takoma Park hostage standoff Friday. The possibility that the hostage, police officers, media, bank personnel, shoppers and others were at risk from rapid gunfire is very real. But I also feel the criticisms of the officers on the scene offered by former SWAT and hostage team experts in your piece titled "Only suspect died in hostage standoff, but was it just luck?" are premature, if not unjustified.
To suggest, for example, as former FBI chief hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt did - that a decision should have been made regarding which "officers should have their guns out and who would be the shooter" in the midst of the chaos, exacerbated by shouting, the deafening wap-wap-wap of helicopter rotors, and erratic chatter of police, medic and fire department radios from different agencies -- is reckless.
I prefer to wait for the after-action report for any such judgment. Right now, my take on this is that the officers handled the situation as best they could given its volatile and potentially catastrophic nature. Theory, conjecture, supposition, assessment, criticism and training all have their value - in a perfect, predictable world. When all hell breaks loose, with human life in jeopardy, I'm inclined not to give much thought to the views of distant experts until I've heard from those on the ground, those who acted quickly while putting themselves in harm's way.
Michael J. Bolton, Arlington
| February 2, 2011; 6:30 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Maryland, Montgomery County, Takoma, crime, guns, police
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