Planned Parenthood attack: Most officers shot since 2013

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

More officers hit by gunfire in Planned Parenthood attack than any other US incident since ’13.

DENVER — Eight minutes after the call went out about a gunman opening fire outside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, an officer called into his radio the words that no cop wants to hear: “I’ve been shot.” Hit in the hand, the officer asked for help — he had just arrived at the chaotic scene and didn’t know if the gunman was approaching him to finish him off. “I will shoot him if he moves toward you, brother,” another officer replied. The gunbattle ultimately claimed the life of one officer and injured a total of five, the highest police casualty count in a single incident in the U.S. in two years and a reflection of the danger that mass shootings pose to police. A recording of police radio transmissions depicts a chaotic scene, with officers trying to find the gunman and save injured civilians while under deadly fire themselves.

Police are wounded in about 25 percent of cases like the Nov. 27 Colorado Springs shooting, where officers arrive while the gunman is still firing, said Pete Blair, an associated professor of criminal justice at Texas State University. “It makes it the most dangerous call that a police officer can get, that I know of,” said Blair, who co-authored an FBI report that reviewed 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013. And officers hoping to save victims’ lives often confront the gunman without backup and without much information about what he looks like or where he is. Later, police briefly lost track of the gunman when he got inside the clinic. “We cannot locate the shooter,” one officer said. “He is in the Planned Parenthood building firing through the windows,” another said. Three people were killed in the shootings — two civilians and officer Garrett Swasey, a member of the police force at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus who had gone to help. Most police and sheriff’s departments give individual officers the authority to decide whether to take on an active shooter immediately or wait for backup, said Sid Heal, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s commander and now a consultant with the Police Policy Studies Council.

Following standard practice at the time, officers waited outside until commanders believed they had sufficient numbers, equipment and information to enter the building, but they came under widespread criticism for not moving in sooner. In last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, responding officers entered a social service center without knowing how many gunmen there were or whether they were still in the building.

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