LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The Little Rock Police Department hopes to find some good from the Las Vegas shooting, by improving the way officers in the city secure big events.
“You keep thinking,” Lt. Steven McClanahan said, “as police, as law enforcement, that things like this wouldn’t happen. But when you wake up, you watch the news and see that it happened again.”
After every mass shooting or tragedy, including Monday morning’s shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, or Little Rock’s Power Ultra Lounge shooting, there is an after-action report written by local law enforcement about what officers did, and whether those actions worked. McClanahan, a spokesman for the LRPD, said department leaders study each one and learn from them.
“You know, when you’ve seen the incidents in Europe about people driving through barricades and using big trucks to cause mass chaos, I think during Riverfest this year we did have some strategic road blocks and trucks in place to prevent people from driving through,” he mentioned.
Between Razorbacks games, the Arkansas State Fair, and all the city’s other events, LRPD is used to preparing for big crowds. As technology and best practices change, it can tweak its plans to adjust.
“We have an operation order for our big events,” McClanahan said. “And I know for a fact—Race for the Cure and the State Fair are coming up—we already have our staffing in place for the State Fair.”
A significant part of LRPD’s event-planning process is its intelligence unit. Officers go through social media accounts and other information and look for any signs of credible threats.
“We also, keep in mind, have bomb dogs,” McClanahan mentioned, “that we can use to sweep facilities such as War Memorial Stadium, such as the State Fair.”
But McClanahan added that there are some things the police cannot account for, such as one man, without a worrisome profile, perched 30 stories up, ready to kill. He said that is his biggest fear as a police officer.
“That’s the biggest fear that I have as a police officer working in our city,” McClanahan stated. “You know, when you have people that aren’t rational, and that could be suffering from mental illness, or they’re not on the radar screen, how do you prevent something like that? That’s why we really need people from the community, from the public. If you do see something that doesn’t look right, go ahead and let us know.”
McClanahan said Little Rock police officers train yearly for active shooter scenarios, and partner with MEMS, the Little Rock Fire Department, and local hospitals to make the drills as comprehensive as possible. He said their training was put to good use during the shooting at Power Ultra Lounge this summer.
“We went ahead and placed six tourniquets and did one chest seal in that incident,” he recalled. “So, keep in mind, the police, when we’re trying to isolate the bad guy, once we realized that he left, immediately we’re going to start rendering first aid. And I am convinced, that the first aid that we rendered at the Power Ultra Lounge, that that definitely did save lives.”
McClanahan said the number of active shooter incidents have increased for the last several years. After each one, police departments have implemented new policies to give themselves the best chance as protecting their cities. “But when you have somebody shooting from that location on the 32nd floor,” he noted, “I don’t know how you defend against that.”
Due to a spike in violent crime in the first half of 2017, this will be the first year that there will be metal detectors when people enter the Arkansas State Fair. McClanahan added that there will also be cameras throughout the grounds, to see what officers cannot.