Friday, November 15, 2013

Capitol Police Board confirms "stand down" order during Navy Yard slaughter

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, speaking for the Capitol Police Board's review of this September's mass shooting incident at the Navy Yard, confirmed yesterday that Capitol Police superiors did in fact order CP's fully geared-up SWAT team (CERT) to retreat from the scene of the ongoing slaughter. From Roll Call's Hannah Hess:
“The facts are clear that the CERT was initially directed to the incident command post, and the facts are clear that they did not make it to the incident command post,” Irving said. “We also have radio transmissions from a Capitol Police unit at the command post that reflected they would be unable to make it due to heavy traffic congestion”
Irving tries to present the order to proceed to the command post as an order to proceed towards the Navy Yard, where the command post would presumably be set up, but it is an established fact that the CERT team was already at the scene of the ongoing slaughter before any order from superiors was received, making the order to proceed to the incident command post an order to retreat from the scene of the shooting.

Here is what we know about the situation at the time that the CERT team first contacted their superiors (from the BBC, 9/18/13). The CERT team, which had coincidentally been near the Navy Yard, heard directly about the active shooter situation and had already gotten itself in position to intercede when superiors were first contacted:
Multiple sources in the Capitol Police department have told the BBC that its highly trained and heavily armed four-man Containment and Emergency Response Team (Cert) was near the Navy Yard when the initial report of an active shooter came in about 8:20 local time.
The officers, wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons, arrived outside Building 197 a few minutes later, an official with knowledge of the incident told the BBC.
According to a Capitol Police source, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC's main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on the site equipped with long guns and requested their help stopping the gunman. 
When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.
In a bizarre twist the Roll Call report does not provide this context, allowing Irving to get away with his pretense that the order to proceed to the incident command post was an order to advance rather than an order to retreat (or "stand down"). The title of Hess' article refers to the "stand down" controversy ("Congress Unlikely to Intervene in 'Stand Down' Controversy"), but the article itself never addresses whether the CERT team was told to stand down. 

Hess must simply be ignorant of the most basic facts of the story she is supposed to be covering. Why else would she fail to report the biggest scoop a young reporter is ever likely to have dropped in her lap? It's not like this is a partisan issue where our Democrat-dominated media has a strong interest in presenting the police as helpless to protect the public from active shooters. This slaughter could have been stopped by the police and confirmation of that fact would seem to be a plus for the Democratic Party's anti-gun position that we should all be willing to trust the police for our defense without feeling any need to be prepared (by bearing arms) to defend ourselves.

In any case, Hess has left this story unbroken, leaving the opportunity for others to break it, as I for one am glad to do. So thank you Mr. Irving for providing us with the content of that communication between the CERT team at the active shooting scene and their superiors. They were told to retreat to the "incident command post," which at that point would have been back at headquarters, since no forward command post would yet have been established. And thanks to Hannah Hess for accepting Irving's ludicrous spin that the CERT team was blocked by traffic from reaching the shooting scene that they were calling from, allowing me to break what should have been her scoop.

As for the CERT team's failure to complete its retreat to the yet-to-be-established "command post," supposedly because of "traffic," the real story isn't hard to figure. They never made it to their designated retreat point, not because of traffic, but because they would have been beside themselves with anger and shame. They should have disobeyed the stand down order and risked being fired rather than allowing the slaughter of innocents to proceed. It is not surprising that they would accept any excuse (traffic) to not return to the masters who ordered this betrayal of their purpose and their trust.

UPDATE:  It seems there was an already established "incident command post" when CERT received its order from Capitol Police superiors to retreat there. This advance post must have been created by the District's municipal police, not the Capitol Police, and is presumably where the CERT team was told that they had the only long guns on site and were asked by the municipal police to help stop the shooter (as reported by the BBC above). They say that they arrived immediately at the command center and only moved aside while awaiting orders from Capitol Police headquarters. From Hess' report: 
The union disputes that claim [that they never reached the incident command center], saying that the CERT officers arrived at the incident command post within minutes of the first call for assistance but relocated to ensure other first responders could reach the incident while they awaited further instructions from the Capitol Police.
Sorry for getting this wrong in my initial write-up, but the only change in the interpretation is that it makes Irving out to be a bold-faced liar. He said that the CERT team never got to the command post when they clearly did, supposing that is where they were asked to help stop the shooter. But he is still admitting to the stand down order. The ordered retreat is just now a shorter retreat, back to the nearby command post, but it had to have been an order not to engage the shooter or the team would obviously not have left the scene.

(Crossposted at my Error Theory blog)

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