Full Story: CHDS Alums at Forefront of Navy Yard Response, Collaboration

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Cathy Lanier , Chief of Police, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and CHDS master’s graduate speaks at George Washington University on the Navy Yard Incident

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a CHDS master’s degree graduate, was the face of the Metropolitan Police Department during the ensuing response and media frenzy. Pre-existing, collaborative relationships and emergency exercises were also critical to the Navy Yard Shootings in, Lanier noted. Because of intertwining jurisdiction among the Metro Police, Transit Police, and Park Police as well as with federal partners necessitates the familiarity that is advantageous during an emergency.

That point was quickly proved on the day of the shooting as upon arriving at the scene Lanier was joined by U.S. Parks Police Chief Teresa Chamber and U.S. Capitol Hill Police Chief Kim Dine at the incident command post.

“We are lucky in D.C. in that every single day we have a multi-agency operation,” she said after her presentation at the CHDS Alumni and Professional Exchange in March 2014. “Every day the MPD does a joint operation and that’s not always the case in other places.”

The shooting resulted in a call for great collaboration with the Navy Yard. Although MPD had extensively exercised active-shooter events with its partners, the Navy Yard proved to be a challenge. Her department had exercised for active-shooter response with appropriate partners in the city, except for the Navy Yard – a military base.

The Navy’s investigative report recommended the Navy Yard establish mutual aid agreements with agencies in the area.

“We had trained every agency—there’s nobody left out of our active-shooter training—but what we never thought of was that we would have to go inside a military base on an active shooter,” Chief Lanier said during a conference at George Washington University in . “We had this image that everyone inside a military base was armed. The reality is about 12 people inside the entire base had guns.”

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Unified Command exercised overall command of the emergency response from all agencies, including on-scene tactical leadership, medical care and evacuation, establishing a Joint Information Center, and implementing a process for egress of WNY tenant personnel.

In Lanier’s case, some 100 uniformed officers eventually assembled to enter the yard while some responders needed to be ordered back to their precincts.

Pre-existing, collaborative relationships and emergency exercises were also critical to the Navy Yard shooting response, Lanier noted. Because of intertwining jurisdiction among the Metro Police, Transit Police, and Park Police as well as with federal partners necessitates the familiarity that is advantageous during an emergency.

“We are lucky in D.C. in that every single day we have a multi-agency operation,” she said after her presentation. “Every day the MPD does a joint operation and that’s not always the case in other places.”

In addition to exercising and forming pre-existing relationships, presented noted adaptation skills are equally important as unexpected wrinkles erupt as investigation into a big events is ongoing.

One of the lessons learned in Boston and Washington was that personnel need to train to their disaster plan roles. In both incidents eager officers showed up to help at the Navy Yard, some still clad in slumbering attire, while as the search for one of the Boston perpetrators moved into nearby Watertown hundreds of law enforcement personnel descended on the suburb to assist.

Among the lessons learned from the deadly September 2013 Navy Yard shooting was the importance of interagency collaboration that a Naval Postgraduate Center for Homeland Defense and Security graduate education reinforces.

CHDS alumni were at the fore of the Navy Yard response on multiple fronts – from law enforcement to medical services – and will play critical roles going forward as the Navy implements the recommendations included in its November 2013 investigative report that calls for greater collaboration and security exercises.

In September 2013 a lone gunman, who had a security clearance, entered the Navy Yard’s Building 97 and began shooting randomly. Eventually, he worked his way to an overlook within the building and on to cubicle-filled office floors. The gunman entered the building at 8:15 a.m. and was declared dead at 11:50 a.m., after killing 12 victims.

Unexpected challenges quickly emerged. Dispatchers struggled to match street names and the address of the building because of separate databases. Communications were disrupted in part due to the design of the building. Emergency plans had not been exercised at the Navy Yard, according to a Navy investigative report on the shooting.

Washington, D.C. agencies responded and worked side by side searching the cavernous office floors where responders faced myriad challenges in their pursuit of the attacker and care of the victims.

CHDS alumni say their NPS education was pivotal in their preparedness and response policies. Moreover, CHDS educational concepts such as collaboration and crisis management will be critical parts of the Navy Yard’s security in the future – a sobering example of the importance of the partnership between the Navy and local, state and other federal agencies where alumni play a vital role.

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a CHDS master’s degree graduate, was the face of the Metropolitan Police Department during the ensuing response and media frenzy. The Metropolitan Police Department Unified Command led the emergency response from all agencies and established a Joint Information Center.

Pre-existing, collaborative relationships and emergency exercises were also critical to the Navy Yard shooting response, Lanier noted. The intertwining jurisdictions of the Metro Police, Transit Police, Park Police and other federal agencies, make relationships and familiarity critical during an emergency.

That point was quickly proven on the day of the shooting as Lanier was joined by U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chamber and U.S. Capitol Hill Police Chief Kim Dine at the incident command post.

“We are lucky in D.C. in that every single day we have a multi-agency operation,” Lanier said after a presentation during the CHDS Alumni and Professional Exchange in March 2014. “Every day the MPD does a joint operation and that’s not always the case in other places.”

The shooting resulted in a call for greater collaboration with the Navy Yard. Although MPD had extensively exercised active-shooter events with its partners, but the Navy Yard – a military base – proved to be challenging.

The Navy’s investigative report recommended the Navy Yard establish mutual aid agreements with agencies in the area.

CHDS grads working for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services were heavily involved in the response. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, an Executive Leaders Program alumnus was on the scene. Deputy Fire Chief Edward (Pete) Pearson, a master’s degree graduate, was one of the first to arrive and was forward-deployed as Operations Chief inside the compound with Naval security and Naval District fire personnel.

CHDS master’s degree alumnus Battalion Chief John Donnelly of D.C. Fire and EMS led a team, and was escorted in by Metro Police guard in an attempt to rescue patients.

“The critical thinking skills honed at CHDS were helpful as I rapidly assessed the situation for my team in a chaotic environment. Collaboration was crucial as I worked with our partners to enter the grounds to deliver medical care to the wounded.”

D.C. Fire Battalion Chief Rafael Sa’adah, a CHDS master’s degree alumnus, was the highest ranking official at the EMS Operations Center and also served as Deputy Medical Director for the department, overseeing casualty collection, triage, transport and patient tracking.

Sa’adah said the incident highlighted the need for collaboration in integrated response plans in the D.C. region with the area’s military partners. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments EMS Subcommittee has created an integrated directory of regional assets – military as well as state and local – that can be used as a quick-call reference guide in major events that require mutual aid or transcend boundaries between military bases and local jurisdictions, Sa’adah noted.

“We completed a fantastic large-scale active shooter training exercise with the military last year at multiple simulations sites, including the Navy Yard and old Walter Reed National Military Center, with simulations, moulage and role-playing victims,” Sa’adah said.

Along with Donnelly, Sa’adah has participated in a joint Department of Homeland Security/Department of Health and Human Services Health and Medical Subcommittee that brings together local government with military partners to collaborate on response for major events in the region.

“I think the networks formed at NPS/CHDS help foster this type of collaboration,” Sa’adah said.

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