Boston Police Chief: Plan for Worst-Case Scenarios
UPDATED: April 11, 2014 9:17 p.m.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The police supervisor who oversaw the response to the Boston Marathon bombing last year said one of the keys to preparing for terrorist attacks is conjuring up worst-case scenarios.
Daniel Linskey, the Boston Police superintendent-in-chief, spoke on Friday to local police and homeland security students Friday at Towson University.
He said he has “evil geniuses” on staff to help plan drills. Once they suggested a training scenario where an officer had been shot; the mayor and police commissioner were with him at the hospital; and a terrorist was trying to bomb the hospital building.
That training paid off last year when officers were looking for the attackers. Linskey said every wounded person picked up by paramedics was a potential suspect, and every hospital was a potential target.
Linskey gave a detailed account of the bombing aftermath and summarized leadership lessons he had learned.
Tuesday will be the one-year anniversary of the bombing.
Investigators believe two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, put two bombs near the marathon’s finish line last year, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. Tamerlan Tsarnaev later died in a police shootout. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now preparing for trial.
Linskey said that for this year’s marathon on April 21, there will be more police and cameras present, and the department is asking spectators not to bring backpacks unless they really need them. Both bombs last year exploded from inside backpacks.
However, he hopes last year’s events don’t scare people away this time.
“I want families to go to the marathon,” Linskey said. “I want families to feel comfortable.”
Linskey said riots after sports events usually produce bigger security threats than the marathon. Before the bombs went off last year, he was needling an officer for not cracking down hard enough on drunken college kids, he said.
After the explosions, he heard muffled cries through his radio and ran to the scene. He saw people with limbs nearly blown off. His first instinct was to help with first aid, but another officer reminded him to assess the full situation and start giving orders.
As medics attended to the victims, Linskey decided to keep the trains open and use them to evacuate people. Officers started searching passengers for weapons before letting them on.
To identify suspects, they asked the public to submit photos and videos they had shot–a tactic that ultimately led to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest.
Linskey said there was a torrent of wrong intelligence information early on. For instance, an object police thought was a bomb turned out to be a voltage device from an electric utility. He said the lesson is to expect delays based on wrong information and not get discouraged.
He said the bombing also showed him that exhaustive plans must sometimes be thrown out, but the planning process itself helps teach response teams to work together.
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