Jul 10, 2008

Hawke Family Question Police Actions In Petit Murders

Hawke Parents Question Police Efforts In Petit Slayings -- Courant.com

There is good deal of understandable frustration and regrets for the Hawke family over the Cheshire Police depts handling of their loved one's murders last July.
I know that many people familiar with the details of the Petit crimes have done the what-if's a hundred times over the sequence of events that occurred on the morning of these murders.

I myself have had a good many sleepless nights wondering why the Police rescue wasn't handled differently, always playing out alternate scenarios with happier endings. As such, one can only imagine what the immediate family's burden has been with these same tortuous realizations.

Of course we all have the benifit of hindsight now, and the Cheshire Police did not, and were responding as they were trained to do, given the information they had up until that point.
That said, It clearly was not the response neccessary to save the lives of the Petit mom and her children.

After reading the recent articles about the Hawke family letters to The Cheshire Police department and Prosecutor, regarding the Polices handling of that fateful morning-- I had an important remembrance; Just after the crimes occurred last summer I was reading an article about a Dateline episode covering the crimes, and within the comments section there was a very interesting write- in, regarding the police's handling of the Petit hostage situation on the morning of those crimes.
It was by a Police strategist of some kind and he'd written very pointedly and intelligently about why and how the police mishandled the situation, and went on to explain that many small town Police departments desperately needed to be trained in these varying types of hostage situations, for this very reason. There was no judgement of The Cheshire Police, but rather an experienced summation of how and why this happened ; The way that most Police departments are trained to deal with anything resembling a hostage situation and the inherent probelms with following one basic protocal of calling in a swat team and the time- consuming setting up of perimeters etc.

This made tremendous sense to me at the time and I can recall tucking the information away in my brain to be followed up on when all the people involved had a chance to heal just a bit.

This week With the advent of the articles about the Hawke family's pained and unanswered questions regarding the handling of thier family members lives, I see that now is that time...
I am certain that the hawke family would derive comfort in at least knowing that nothing like this is ever likely to happen again due to police unpreparedness. And please Let me be clear on this; I cannot fault any one member of the Cheshire Police Dept. as they were each acting under orders, as they must, in order to maintain a working unit.
I also know that many officers at the scene that day were deeply disturbed by the course of the crimes and felt that they should have done more-but there hands were tied by orders.. I am certain that those regrets still linger to this day and may for thier lifetimes.

This is a complex and painful issue, but one that must be addressed to ensure that we are never ill prepared for a situation like this where lives hang in the balance.

After scouring the Internet, I found the original article as well as the comment with the authors name and when clicking upon his name one is brought to the site below which is a Police training Company which specializes in handling high risk and hostage type situations, where the need for immediate intervention separates them from others, ie where the standard protocol which is to set up perimeters and so forth, eats up valuable time, which the victims may not have.

I propose that we begin the process of urging our Legislators to fund this type of training for each Police dept within this state. Or at the very least one dept per a certain geograp[hical area, so that each town in the state has a department close enough to come in swiftly should anything resembling this occcur again.
Once again If as a people and a government we can learn from this set of crimes, other lives will be saved in the future.

The italicized text below is the comment by the Police strategist Rick Armellino

Thank you Dateline for the accurate accounting of this tragedy. There is a little more to this story that has so far been unreported.

Many people may wonder why the police first responders did not initiate an immediate rescue of this family once they were on the premises. Training and equipping police officers to improve response to armed invasions is my profession. The web address below will direct you to a police column I author which discusses the problems with traditional police responses that require "containment" of a dangerous situation rather than entry into the hazardous environment to assist innocents trapped inside a structure.

The horrific tragedy that occurred to the Petit's may have been partially averted if first responders were authorized, trained and equipped to make fast entry into the structure to quickly help those trapped on the inside.

Over 70% of our nation's police agencies (especially those located in residential suburbia) DO NOT ALLOW first responders to practice a police procedure named "Immediate Action Rapid Deployment" (IARD).

The Petit incident is only one of many examples where local political and police leaders have failed to keep up with changing technology and tactics to vastly improve assistance to endangered citizens.

Bureaucracies rarely improve on their own, they need pressure from the outside. Only concerned citizens and the media asking hard questions will improve local police response services to those endangered by society's predators

Comment written by Rick armellino Aug 2007 within dateline web-story
"'knocking on doors in Cheshire Ct"

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