Manhunt offers unplanned test of emergency protocol

Life returned to normal this week in Aurora after a rather dramatic manhunt had citizens on edge. Weird things can and do happen in small-town America, we were reminded, and in the end there were some valuable lessons to be learned.
Chief among them is the fact that local citizens should feel good about the level of protection they receive here in Hamilton County. Between the Aurora Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and Nebraska State Patrol, the bad guys in this case were fighting a losing battle. The way these agencies cooperate when the heat is on is very impressive, and effective.
The two initial suspects in the case made some really stupid decisions from the get-go, speeding away from a traffic stop that in all likelihood would have ended with a simple speeding ticket. The sad reality is that the whole episode could and should have been avoided.
But in real life, would-be criminals make bad decisions, causing the rest of the world to deal with the fallout. In this case, a lot of manpower was spent looking for these two guys and Aurorans had a restless night, knowing that the suspects were still out there, somewhere.
The decisions to lock down Aurora Public Schools and Memorial Hospital were solid at the time they were made, since there weren’t a lot of details available at the time about any potential threat. Far better to be safe than sorry in that situation. School and hospital officials report that the protocol worked well, and actually served as a valuable test.
Here’s hoping they never have to use that protocol again, but if they do there is confidence that the system is designed to keep people safe, especially the hundreds of young people in class at Aurora Public Schools. While some may scoff at time spent practicing or preparing for the what-ifs, this incident proved it’s necessary.
Police Chief Paul Graham admitted that there was one valuable lesson learned during a post-incident briefing, and that is that a command post should have been established immediately to help coordinate the search efforts. That’s a valuable lesson, especially after tracking this breaking story on the scanner and through real-time Twitter reports. In this new world we live in with information streaming in through social media, the differences between fact, second-hand reports and small-town rumor can be difficult to sort through when time is of the essence.
Bottom line, as Graham concluded, nobody got hurt. The bad guys were arrested; life returned to normal; and our community is safe, perhaps even a bit wiser in how to react when a reality TV-type script turns into just plain reality.
Kurt Johnson

Rate this article: 
No votes yet