By Bart R. Johnson, IACP Executive Director.
I received an email yesterday from Colonel Tim Alben of the Massachusetts State Police about the Boston bombings. His email to me read, in part:
Since 9/11, we’ve understood that the only way to defeat this terrorist threat is through collaborative efforts and partnerships between local, state and federal law enforcement. These partnerships are critical to any hope of success but talking about issues like this can often be easier than actual implementation. My partners last week were FBI SAC Richard DesLauriers, Commissioner Ed Davis of Boston PD, Chief Ed Deveau of the Watertown PD and Wilmington Police Chief Mike Begonis who directed the Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) Tactical Teams. I also want to add that during the very fluid events last Friday, I asked Colonels Bob Quinn of New Hampshire and Steve O’Donnell of Rhode Island to send me their SWAT Teams who were immediately injected in various tactical assignments. Colonel Tom L’Esperance of Vermont and I were in regular contact and Vermont was prepared to handle any Tactical requests that might come in across Massachusetts as we were engaged in Boston.
The Boston FBI Office has been literally overflowing with activity and there are agents here from all over the country. In the middle of this activity; in the midst of the FBI Boston Headquarters are our Troopers and local police officers, tied to the hip of FBI agents, working hand in hand with one common direction. As FBI SAC Rick DesLauriers has repeatedly said “one team, one fight”. While no situation is ever perfect, I can attest to the fact that many of the criticisms regarding cooperation and information sharing that existed pre 9/11 have been eliminated and, as law enforcement, we can all take great pride in that alone.
There are many other success stories here, too many to go into detail on now, but they include the Boston JTTF, our Fusion Center and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC). These are post 9/11 creations that, more recently, have come under scrutiny and unjustified criticism. I hope in the coming weeks that we have an opportunity to address all of this. As with every event of this scope, we’ll find things we can improve upon, share this with everyone, and become even better. But the message we need to hear today is that the investment in leadership development, the availability of advanced technology, the progress in information sharing and the collaboration among our IACP members has made the difference we have worked so hard at achieving.
Colonel Alben’s email is very encouraging. A real testament to the progress that we have made since September 11, 2001. In addition to what he mentions above, I noticed that a number of the capabilities on display, that played out for the Nation to see on TV, were the result of:
• Planning, exercises, and training for mass casualty events (this saved lives).
• The observance of NIMS, ICS, and command and control.
• Integration of federal, state and local law enforcement capabilities.
• Use of social media in the investigation.
• The use of social media in engaging and informing the public.
• Effective information sharing between all levels of government through infrastructures such as the National Network of Fusion Centers, and others.
• Effective use of technology and equipment.
• The sharing of technology and equipment among agencies.
Finally, what I saw in action in Massachusetts was effective leadership, true collaboration, and trusting partnerships. This gave the city, the surrounding area, and the country, the confidence that law enforcement was working together and using everything at their disposal to bring this incident to a swift close.
At the IACP, we will continue to work with our federal, state, and local members to highlight the best practices used during this event and share them with you. Additionally, we will continue to forcefully advocate for the tools and resources necessary to build, sustain and improve these capabilities.
FBI SAC DesLauriers certainly had it right: One Team, One Fight. We should all be proud of the men and women of all of the law enforcement agencies involved in the response and investigation of the Boston bombing. On behalf of President Craig T. Steckler and as the Executive Director of the IACP, this incident reinforced the fact that we must do all we can as an organization to support the law enforcement field so that Colonel Alben, Commissioner Davis, SAC DesLauriers, Chief Deveau, Chief Begonis, and all the officers, troopers, and agents under their command can do what they do best, keep our hometown and homeland safe and secure.