Concerns voiced over police handling of Orlando nightclub shooting

Were Columbine lessons learned?
Posted at 10:48 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 00:48:38-04

Some Colorado law enforcement experts are questioning the police handling of the Orlando shooting, concerned that the lessons of Columbine have not been learned.

"It's very frustrating to look at because it's a lot of the mistakes we made back in '99 in Columbine," said Grant Whitus, a former Jefferson County SWAT Team Leader who just wrote a book about mass shootings. "I was the lead shield on Columbine. I went in first. And we learned so much from that. You can't wait one moment."

Since then, he has taught countless officers nationwide about what they learned from those shootings, so he said it was even more frustrating to watch what unfolded in Orlando.

"That's not what we're taught. That's not how we're supposed to do it," said Whitus,

Before Columbine, patrol officers waited for SWAT to arrive to make entry, but now patrol officers are taught in an active-shooter scenario to go in as soon as soon as they arrive and not stop.

"We've been training officers for the past several years on how to go in and neutralize active shooters and take them out basically," said Dan Montgomery, the former Westminster Police chief who now serves as a police consultant and expert witness.

Montgomery said it is too early to criticize the Orlando Police handling of the shooting, but that there are obvious questions about why is took SWAT so long to go in, especially with people potentially bleeding out inside.

"Your overriding concern is who is getting hurt and how bad is this," said Montgomery. "But we don't know yet who knew what and when. I think that's going to be the value of the critique the department does."

Orlando police have said the shooting in Orlando changed from active-shooter to a hostage situation after the gunman got into a bathroom.  

He had first had a shootout with an off-duty officer and then two other officers arrived with the gunshots continuing.

Hours later, SWAT went in and took down the shooter, but Whitus said it should have never gone that long when lives were at stake.

"I hope the rest of the world is paying attention to this and hearing what I am saying because you need to get through that door and end it quick or innocent lives are going to be lost," said Whitus. "It's hard to say how many people could have been saved if they had done it immediately."