Serious gaps in communication and coordination by police agencies across California stymied last year’s manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner and revealed weaknesses that could be exploited by more a formidable foe, according to a report issued Monday.
“In some ways, Dorner was an anomaly -- a well-armed attacker who knew police tactics,” stated the report from the Police Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based research group. “But police chiefs and county sheriffs involved in the incident agree that a small force of knowledgeable terrorists bent on creating havoc could easily replicate such attacks.”
The 120-page report also noted that weaknesses exposed during the 10-day hunt in February 2013 raised larger questions about unnecessary “self-deployment” -- meaning the tendency of officers from departments throughout a region to rush to the scene of a major event without advance notice or coordination.
Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann, a former chief of the Redlands (Calif.) Police Department, said the report highlights the challenge of trying to keep a swift response from becoming overwhelming and counter-productive.
“It can be difficult but if we don’t talk about it then we will relive it until we learn the lesson,” he said.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the issue has challenged law enforcement and emergency operations for decades now.
“Responding to emergencies is in an officer’s DNA. We have to continually train and remind our officers to look at the bigger picture, the entire situation,” Smith said. “We have to work together with all our law enforcement partners to integrate these changes into everyday operations.”
Dorner allegedly killed four people including two police officers while waging what he called "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against law enforcement in a lengthy manifesto that he posted on Facebook. The saga came to an end in a San Bernardino Mountain cabin when San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officers fired tear gas into a mountain cabin where Dorner was holed up. The cabin burned down with Dorner inside.
Communication breakdowns and self-deployment issues have dogged law enforcement in recent incidents, including the Nov. 1 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport and the gun battle in Watertown, Mass., between Boston area law enforcement and Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.