DETROIT (WWJ) – Law enforcement leaders in metro Detroit are fielding questions from frightened citizens following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured when a gunman opened fire into a crowd of thousands Sunday night at an outdoor music festival along the Las Vegas strip.
While many ask: “Could it happen here?” Detroit Police Chief James Craig says, yes — it could happen anywhere.
“I think it’s helpful to tell the truth. We should stop running away from what it is,” he told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas and other reporters. “…This is not creating fear. We live in some very troubling times.”
Craig said his department’s weekly meeting held Monday focused on the massacre in Vegas.
“Let’s face it, when these tragedies happen, it’s important for us to debrief them, take what any information we have at that time so that we can be in a better position to respond if tragedy strikes,” Craig said. “Again, I just want to stress that this is not me spreading fear, this is the world we live in today.”
While Craig stressed that his department and its law enforcement partners “are in constant state of readiness,” he would to work more with security at hotels and venues in Detroit; while he admits he’s not sure that screenings and metal detectors are the answer.
One thing that may help in a situation like this, he said, is the ability of off-duty police officers to carry guns. He’d like to see some changes in Detroit when it comes to that; starting with Ford Field. “When the NFL constructs a position or rule that says off-duty officers, which includes federal agents, should not be allowed to bring weapons into their venues, that is a problem.”
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, formerly the sheriff, says there are soft targets everywhere, and they’re hard to protect. He it’s crucial that people pay attention to their surroundings.
“From the moment something like that happens it needs to be brought to someone’s attention,” Hackel said. “So like what happened here, law enforcement or first responders can neutralize that threat, preventing further damage.”
“It’s hard to tell people how to prepare for something like that. It’s just the way things are in society…boy, I’ll tell you, it just seems like the very next incident is going to one-up the one we just dot done hearing about.”
Hackel said what he’d like to see is enhanced communication capabilities provided for first responders statewide.
In Oakland County, Sheriff Mike Bouchard is spending his Monday at a SWAT team training.
“Oddly enough I was supposed to be in Vegas last night for meeting today,” Bourchard said. “I was going to be having dinner with (Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph) Lombardo who’s a friend of mine.”
“I was representing Major County Sheriffs of America at a meeting there, and at the last minute I canceled because I thought it was important I come to some of these SWAT drills to see how our equipment and our training is playing out visa vi some of the threats and challenges of today’s world,” the sheriff said. “I had no idea by not going to Vegas I wouldn’t be at dinner with the sheriff when he got the call when this started.”
Bouchard said police train to first prevent incidents, but if something terrible happens they are prepared to respond.
At Oakland University, Police Chief Mark Gordon says they’re preparing their students in case of a shooting there. They’ve been providing educational presentations at the Rochester campus, he said, since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
“Basically, the importance is stressed on preparedness, and what to do should you find yourself in an active shooter situation. There’s basically three strategies — you’ve probably heard of them — it’s run, hide, fight,” Gordon said. “But what we try to do is we try to customize it to different areas of campus depending on who’s hosting the training.”
Gordon says between 2000 and 2009, there were 15 incidents on college campuses. Since 2010, there have been over 60 university shootings across the U.S.