US police ranks hail Nashville police’s swift response to school shooting


While bystander and body-worn video revealed failings in law enforcement — from the murder of George Floyd to the delayed response to a Texas school shooting — even some of the most seasoned officers around the country began to wonder how the American police are doing their job.

But this week’s swift and bold response – also captured on body camera – by officers to an assault at a crowded private Christian school in Nashville has sparked an outpouring of esteem, appreciation and hope among police to across the country, many of whom have struggled with declining community trust and difficult recruitment in the face of intense scrutiny in recent years.

“There’s a little more pride today because of what they saw in our profession being demonstrated in Nashville,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum told CNN this week.

Heartbreaking footage released by police shows officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo charging into the Covenant School on Monday morning and taking out a shooter who had just killed three 9-year-old children and three adults and was firing bullets from an upper window.

Less than 3 minutes after their arrival, they had tracked down and killed the attacker – announcing to their comrades: “Suspect down! Suspect down!”

“These officers have demonstrated what the American police officer is capable of when given the right equipment, the right training and the right mindset,” said Michael Fanone, a former Metropolitan Police officer from DC, to CNN.

Indeed, the decisive actions of Engelbert and Collazo may offer a “school” lesson as police practice limiting the carnage of the next seemingly inevitable mass shooting in the United States, some have said on the pitch to CNN. In the meantime, exposing officers’ willful risk could help reverse long-standing skepticism among police about behind-the-scenes behavior that body-worn cameras might pick up – while attracting more changemakers into the profession.

“That kind of professional response,” former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said, “is something that needs to be seen.”

The single major exposure of the violence Nashville officers faced — and how they countered it — fueled a wave of pride that swept across police blogs and social media as country officers hailed the two and their colleagues at the scene as heroes.

The first-person video of Engelbert and Collazo’s response “is an example of letting people know exactly what police officers face when they receive a call like this,” said Davis, who acknowledged “that there have been terrible things shown on police body cameras” in other cases.

It’s important that the public can watch videos like this so that ordinary people can see how inherently dangerous police work is, said Brenda Goss Andrews, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement and chief retired Detroit Police Department deputy.

“When we rush, we are thinking about saving lives and everything we need to do to make sure citizens are not harmed,” she told CNN. “I think people need to be reminded of that.”

Contrary to headlines about the potentially embarrassing — perhaps even criminal — behavior of officers from every recorded state, body camera footage from Nashville also underscores “the importance of training and teamwork,” a said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which aims to improve professionalism in policing.

“The officers knew what they had to do and did it, although some appeared to have no body armor,” he said. “It didn’t matter: lives were at stake.”

The bloodshed “could have been worse without this great response,” Mayor John Cooper said.

Metro Nashville’s police chief echoed that and praised his team’s widely praised actions in the face of another US school shooting.

“We will never wait to come in and come in and stop a threat, especially when it comes to our children,” said John Drake, recalling the widely decried 73-minute wait by law enforcement in Uvalde before this shooter is confronted and killed.

Drake’s leadership in the wake of the Nashville shooting, including the release of police body camera footage within 24 hours, also drew praise.

“Kudos to the chef for getting this out so quickly,” Davis said. “It’s one of those things that we really need to be transparent about in order to win back the trust of the American people. That goes a long way to what’s happening.

Drake is “an incredible police chief who knows that to do our job we had to be effective crime fighters while building trust with the community,” Schierbaum said.

As police departments across the country struggle to regain trust and recruit new officers, the response to the Nashville mass shootings could serve as a shining example, Police Chief Daniel Hahn said. retired from Sacramento, California.

“I think there are a lot of reasons why people don’t want to join law enforcement,” he told CNN. “We really need to promote the fact that we are making a difference, that you can change lives every day.”

And this week’s attack was “a classic law enforcement operation that was executed flawlessly,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent and CNN analyst.

At this point, US law enforcement will now be pouring into Nashville after-action reports, reviewing videos, and even studying Engelbert and Collazo’s reactions.

Their work, of course, will be aimed at preventing more loss of life as the scourge of gun violence in the United States drags on.

“We have to remember that at any time we could be called upon to be the action department,” Schierbaum said. Officers would “put themselves in harm’s way for the good of Atlanta — and we’re going to be prepared to do that.”


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