Note: If you don't want to look at police actions during a high profile incident...if you want to christen everyone involved as heroes...if you simply want to lavish praise on the police then you might want to go elsewhere. I'm going to do an open, unbiased look at the response of the police to this incident and see what they did right, where they fucked up and what they can improve on. If that causes you personal pain and discomfort then I really don't give a fuck. You can bet your ass that police depts around the country are doing it as we speak. If it doesn't cause you pause when you realize that one guy that doesn't seem to be highly trained can create the chaos that he did then you need to do a personal reassessment.
I am horrified by the actions and motivation of the Dallas Shooter. I am also impressed by his skillset. Lets do a quick overview of his actions, the police response and the final outcome...then lets think about what this tells us about our security forces and their ability to handle complex terrorist attacks by teams as we saw in Paris or more ominously Mumbai.
1. One man was able to ambush Dallas PD in such a way that they thought they were engaging a team of snipers.
2. One man was able to maneuver in such a way as to (according to reports) start his assault from an elevated position, go down to ground level, go head on with a police officer and effectively neutralize him.
3. One man was able to sow so much confusion that he caused police to pursue people that were not engaged in the criminal activity down the high way. In essence his actions were so disruptive that he caused police to expend precious resources chasing their own tails.
4. He engaged in a prolonged shootout with Dallas SWAT. Even though cornered he was able to put down enough firepower to keep them at bay.
5. In the end police were required to use a robot to place an explosive close to him because he was so determined...he was deemed to dangerous to send men in after him.
This was one guy.
What we don't know and may never know is how skilled he was. Did he practice? Was this all Army training? What was his conditioning like? We originally thought this was a team, and later found out it was one guy that pulled a plan out of his ass...what if he had more time?
Can we handle a Mumbai or Paris?
From my chair no. What have we seen? This incident along with the Dorner case is a wake up call. We've seen lone gunmen paralyze cities. If faced with a team of terrorists whether homegrown or foreign we can expect the casualty count to skyrocket. Additionally we didn't see hostage taking in the cases noted....if the Dallas Shooter had chosen to take hostages then the body count would have been higher.
Why no talk of Tampa?
Tampa was horrific but a "confined" incident. Quite honestly while a tragedy, it was easily managed. I don't consider that incident instructive. Think about this. If the Tampa Shooter had gone in, killed, escaped thru the back door and continued his rampage then you would have seen carnage. The incident was simplistic and easily managed.
The Bad News?
Whether we like it or not, Police have to up their game. Training. Physical conditioning. Weapons handling. Up gunning. The freaking works. The idea of being Officer Friendly while dealing with the threats of this modern age is wild. How they'll get it done without causing even more drama between the citizens and the force is beyond me. My first thought is that the city leadership is going to have to change the paradigm. In my opinion using police as a revenue generating arm has failed badly and caused many of the issues we're seeing.
I said it in a previous post and I'll say it again. Police forces are about to become even more militarized AND they're going to become more professionalized. I'm not talking about higher educational requirements. I'm talking about more specialized training, constant testing to ensure that standards are met throughout careers. The days of the fatbody cop are over. The vision of people that can't walk around the corner without passing out are done. Think about it like this. If SWAT Officers are the "elite" of the force then I believe that will be the new baseline in training.
We're not ready. If we get hit by a Paris style attack in say Milwaukee in August then all bets are off. God save us if we face a Mumbai attack anywhere except New York or DC.