Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The KCPD and our regional partners are ready respond to all critical incidents

We are all still reeling from and horrified by the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history that happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night. That kind of act will never make sense. When something like this happens, we often wonder, “Could that happen to me? Could that happen in Kansas City?” Unfortunately, this is a possibility in any city in America, or in the world.

The Kansas City Missouri Police Department constantly trains for the possibility that it could. You should be confident that the Department is ready to respond to any type of critical incident and to coordinate with regional resources, if necessary.

Obviously, the greatest tool for a critical incident is prevention. We have analysts, officers and detectives working every day to gather and analyze information about individuals and groups that could pose a threat to the safety of our community. They need your help to do this. If something strikes you as suspicious, please give us a call and let us know. We’ve been told to do this with terrorism: “If you see something, say something.” That’s applicable in other criminal areas as well, such as brewing disputes that could escalate into violence. You could save a life by being aware and willing to share your concerns with us.

At this time, it does not appear there was anything law enforcement could have done to prevent what happened in Las Vegas. We know we can’t prevent everything but we can be prepared for it, and we are. Every officer on this department undergoes training for active shooter situations, and our Tactical Response Teams train for critical incidents on a weekly basis. We do regular table-top exercises for mass shootings and other large-scale critical incidents, including natural disasters. We work with many entities on these simulated incidents, such as the Kansas City Fire Department, Public Works, Health Department, Kansas City Power and Light, Spire (formerly MGE) and local hospitals. Just last month, we did a large-scale, two-day, tabletop exercise with critical incident scenarios that included working with hospitals in our region. Kansas City and the surrounding area are prepared.

In addition to our patrol officers, Tactical Response Teams are designed to handle critical incidents, and our teams are on duty day and night. They have numerous tools and equipment to gain access to barricaded active threats, just like the brave officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department set out to do when approaching the shooter’s hotel room door on Sunday night. Explosive breaching is one of the tools we have in our toolbox.

One of the great things about the Kansas City area is the level of regional cooperation we enjoy. Were a mass casualty incident to take place anywhere in the metro, we have everything in place to respond to it together within minutes: regional assistance agreements, radio interoperability and experience working together. That’s because we also train and cooperate regionally through agencies like the Mid-America Regional Council and the Metropolitan Tactical Officers Association (MTOA). The state line is irrelevant in critical incidents. The MTOA lobbied both legislators in Kansas and Missouri to change laws to allow officers on both sides of the state line to respond and assist in a critical incident. If a large incident were to take place in a neighboring city – even on the other side of the state line – we stand ready to assist their police department, and we know they are ready to assist us. One phone call or radio transmission is all it would take.

But that is the kind of thing we will do if needed. It’s not typical, but we will work with KCFD to ensure everyone receives the medical care they need as fast as they can. Many things won’t be typical in a mass casualty incident, but all first responders and medical personnel will be coordinating to ensure care is delivered as quickly as possible.

Of course we hope and pray nothing like what happened at Las Vegas or in terrorist attacks around the globe could happen to us or our loved ones, but as law enforcement, we have to be prepared for the possibility. We review these other incidents to see what we can learn and incorporate those lessons into our training and sometimes even into our equipment.

We realize events like this can be traumatizing to many individuals. I’m sure some would think about going to an outdoor concert differently than they did prior to this event. But don’t let evil win. Don’t change your lifestyle or refrain from participating in events you enjoy. Stay vigilant; if you see something say something to help keep others safe, so we all can continue to enjoy the freedom this country offers.

Our hearts are with everyone who was impacted by the horrible events that occurred in Las Vegas, including the first responders who ran toward the gunfire and had to endure such carnage. Rest assured, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department are ready to do the same.

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