San Bernardino shootings: What worked – and what didn’t – in massacre aftermath? Group aims to find out

The Washington think tank that produced the sometimes critical report on the handling of the Christopher Dorner manhunt in 2013 in the Inland area will likely conduct a top-to-bottom review of the law enforcement response to the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

A verbal agreement has been reached with the Police Foundation to review police tactics and possibly how well law enforcement, paramedics and hospitals worked together during the crisis, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Monday.

“You want this to be a lessons learned (incident), and you want to see the industry look at it and see this worked and this didn’t work,” Burguan said.

The Police Foundation, headed by former Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann, will provide an objective examination and lift that “massive” task from the shoulders of local law enforcement agencies, Burguan said.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of police officers that have to be interviewed,” Burguan said.

Bueermann was traveling Monday night and was not available for comment. The Police Foundation offers training, research and evaluation for law enforcement.

Fourteen people were killed and 22 wounded Dec. 2 when Muslim couple Syed Rizwan Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik burst into a holiday party for Farook’s San Bernardino County Division of Environmental Health co-workers at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, firing handguns and semiautomatic rifles.

The shooters fled before police arrived, and about four hours later were killed in a gunbattle with police from seven agencies.

First responders, including county probation officers, firefighters, paramedics and hospital workers, were praised for their swift response that appeared efficient and effective.

“We know from being in the middle of it, it was organized chaos,” Burguan said. “The industry learns from these things.”

Case in point, Burguan said, was the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 that killed 13 people and wounded 21 before the two attackers committed suicide. The standard practice at the time, Burguan said, was for police to surround a building and wait for a SWAT team to arrive before entering, unintentionally giving attackers more time to kill.

Because of that tragedy, Burguan said, tactics have evolved. In the San Bernardino shooting, the first officers to arrive immediately formed a team and entered the Inland Regional Center in hopes of taking out the shooters, whose location was unknown at the time.

Burguan also expects the report from the Police Foundation to include information on the shooters’ backgrounds. Because the report is being paid for by the federal Department of Justice, it could include how well the FBI worked with other agencies during the investigation. Burguan said he does not expect the report to delve into the issues surrounding Malik’s immigration into the United States to marry U.S.-born Farook.

The Police Foundation wrote a 102-page report on the search for Dorner, a fired Los Angeles Police Department officer who in a revenge-fueled rampage in February 2013 killed Monica Quan, the daughter of an LAPD captain; her fiancé, Keith Lawrence; Riverside police Officer Michael Crain; and San Bernardino County sheriff’s Detective Jeremiah MacKay. Crain’s partner, Andrew Tachias, and San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Alex Collins were wounded.

The report praised heroic actions by officers but found fault with radio communication plans, officers responding to the mountains without being requested and a door-to-door search in the Big Bear area.

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