Q&A of the Day – Hindsight with the UPS hostage shootout
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: I hate unaccountable law enforcement. BUT I fully support a county having a couple of scary ex SEAL types who can be unleashed when (stuff) hits the fan and an evil bastard has to be squashed. A tight leash, but it comes off and they do what they were trained to.
Bottom Line: In the wake of Thursday’s somewhat surreal high jacking of a UPS truck and driver, subsequent chase and eventual shootout – I think I've heard about every type of opinion, concern and blame that could be applied. Even days later I’m not sure the answers are any better or the best path forward all that clear. I choose this note in particular because of all the questions that’d been raised in hindsight about the police response resulting in a shootout killing the two suspects along with the hijacked driver – this angle might pose one of the more objective questions. Rather than Monday morning quarterbacking the horrible events and the police response, is it possible that perhaps the right team of law enforcement professionals weren’t the ones responding to the situation.
What you’re suggesting is essentially what we have with SWAT teams within local law enforcement. Miami-Dade has an SRT, or Special Response Team that’s essentially the county’s version of SWAT. Many have been quick to suggest that the response by police involved in the chase and final shootout was inappropriate. As Mayor Carlos Gimenez indicated, the FBI is investigating,and they’ll provide insight. We have no reason to believe that anyone responding in law enforcement wanted the conclusion that occurred. Additionally, it’s easy for any of us not involved to rush to judgement but I don’t think any of us can begin to appreciate the pressure or the stress of the situation by the end of this chase. Quoting Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez: They didn’t want a situation where they bailed out and ran into a CVS, or a local shopping center, or even worse, started shooting at people at that intersection. It was a very difficult situation they were facing. They tried the best they could and showed incredible courage.Can anyone really question that line of thinking? It’s logical. The question, in hindsight, might be whether the right law enforcement team was responding by the time the shootout erupted.
Having the right people in the right places makes a tremendous difference in outcomes in any aspect of life. This is true in law enforcement as well. Miami-Dade's SRT unit is one that’s trained specifically for hostage situations. Is it possible that if the SRT unit were the one deployed the outcome may have been different? Maybe. We don’t know. But that’s the one question that comes to mind. Not whether the police response was appropriate but whether we had the right law enforcement team in place to respond. It’s also appropriate to point out that there may have been factors preventing the SRT response given the fluid situation and chase during drive time traffic.
One of the most compelling works of H.G. Wells was The Time Traveler. In the story, a young brilliant professor creates a time machine to attempt to bring back the love of his life after a mugging that led to her death shortly after becoming engaged. What the professor quickly learns is that even if he traveled back time and changed her circumstances, she still died – just in different ways. It was her fate. In the end he learns that you can’t change the fate of the past, but you can positively change the future – and that becomes his mission. This situation feels like a different version of a similar thing to me. We don’t know if there would have been a response that wouldn’t have led to the death of the UPS driver. We can attempt to learn from this and positively change the future.