More than a month after 58 concertgoers were killed in Las Vegas, questions still are being asked about the police response. “While they’re supposed to assume some risk, they’re not supposed to get themselves killed,” says one expert.
At least two Las Vegas police officers and two armed private security officers were on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel when Stephen Paddock was firing into a concert crowd, killing 58 and wounding hundreds, says hotel owner MGM Resorts International. Should those officers have tried to stop the massacre, knowing at least one person was firing a high-powered rifle and they probably had only semiautomatic pistols? Did they notify anyone of the location of the shooting? Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said police didn’t know a security guard had been shot until four more officers climbed the stairs to the 32nd floor 12 minutes after the shooting started and two minutes after it ended, reports the Washington Post.
The officers may have carried only semiautomatic pistols, with 14-shot capacity and maybe extra magazines on their belts, while Paddock wielded high-powered rifles modified to fire with automatic frequency. The officers didn’t know how many shooters there might be. They could see a wheeled cart in the hallway, with wires trailing under Paddock’s door. That enabled a camera to show him the hallway, but could have been a booby trap. Pete Blair of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University has trained thousands of law enforcement officers. The first to arrive “have to make the assessment what to do,” based on the circumstances, he said. “We teach that the first priority is to stop the killing … [Does Las Vegas] allow such officers to confront active shooters?” Some departments require a certain number of officers before a confrontation. “It really does come down to the read of the officers on the floor,” Blair said, “as to what they can accomplish. While they’re supposed to assume some risk, they’re not supposed to get themselves killed.”