Elgin Police Conduct Mass Shooting Drill, But As a Secret Radio Department, Neglect Public Awareness Practice

Elgin police today conducted an active shooting with mass casualties drill. On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, at Kimball Middle School, 451 N McLean Boulevard in Elgin, the Elgin Police Department the Elgin Fire Department, School District U-46, and several area hospitals conducted a joint training scenario involving an active shooter/mass casualty event. The training scenario started at 8:00 a.m. with a briefing that was held in the Kimball Middle School gymnasium. A training scenario and critique was scheduled to end at 12:00 p.m.

The training scenario involved approximately 200 role players along with the deployment of both police and fire personnel in response to an active shooter. Personnel were tasked with command post operations, casualty collection points, rescue task forces, mutual aid, evacuations, and the treatment of injured within the school and at an off-site treatment area. Additionally, area hospitals received patients with simulated injuries. One of the many objectives of the training scenario is the deployment of a Rescue Task Force that is designed to allow medical personnel into a “warm” zone, under the armed protection of law enforcement personnel. The Rescue Task Force is then utilized to assess, treat, and evacuate injured persons.

While the drill was active, access to the grounds of Kimball Middle School was restricted and remained restricted until the conclusion of the training scenario. A section of Weston Avenue between Wing Street and Demmond Street was closed to the public from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The drill involved a mass casualty incident that was elevated to a 5th alarm MABAS EMS Box, which simulated response from fire departments as far away as Mount Prospect and Batavia.

While Elgin police did a complete job informing the public about the upcoming event, details in real-time involving public information awareness via social media were lacking.

The drill at Kimball Middle School was not mentioned today in Elgin Police Department’s official twitter account (Twitter.com/ElginPD).

There were several pictures posted on Elgin Police Department’s official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ElginPolice), but details about operations, casualties, and traffic, etc were neglected.

The opportunity to practice the public awareness side of the drill passed without the real-time mention of details about the incident to residents in the area.

In the recent shooting attack on Dallas Police Department Headquarters Saturday June 13, 2015, Dallas police updated their Twitter account with details about their response to the incident. In one instance they reported that Dallas SWAT disabled the suspect’s vehicle with a .50 caliber rifle while the standoff was ongoing.

Dallas police updated the public about a suspicious package and provided details about the operations of an Explosive Ordinance Robot — including a report that a device that was being removed exploded on its own. All of this information was provided in near real-time while the incident was “active.”

After encrypting ALL police radio communications channels, Elgin Police Department has responded to its sixth shooting case — and third fatal shooting case — in the past two months.

When ALL police communications are kept secret on all police channels, neighborhoods have no sense of real-time suspicious activity and have limited, sanitized knowledge of the actual criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Complete secret police channels can also result in important public safety information being delayed, which can increase the risk of loss of life and loss of property. Lack of real-time information from authorities at the very least can cause a great deal of unnecessary psychological stress.

However, police tactical teams DO need secret, encrypted radio channels for tactical operations, such as school shooting responses, gang arrests and warrant arrests. While Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts can be very effective, many police departments still keep at least one law dispatch channel public.

Police departments need to comprehend the balance of communications for optimal awareness of citizens for their public safety and for the effectiveness of neighborhood watch capabilities. There are far more good citizens’ eyes and ears than there are police eyes and ears.

Elgin police have one of the more active police Twitter accounts that includes many real-time incidents. However, the incidents that are reported emphasize traffic-related incidents. Many other incidents are neglected in real-time reporting.

The discovery of a victim fatally wounded by a gunshot to the head was not reported in real-time or near real-time on June 14, 2015 at about 5:30 a.m. The lack of awareness by citizens hinders opportunities for citizens recognizing or recalling suspicious or even actual criminal activity.

All police departments need to justify what information they keep secret, and gain a more complete understanding of how lack of citizen awareness degrades a community, and blocks important information from being utilized to combat crime and minimize loss of life and property.


Cardinal Note: As of June 5, 2013 — up to and including the date of this article — police incidents related to the above police agency are not reported in real time or within a prompt time period. Police protecting their realm of investigation and police activity, have chosen to use secret military-grade encrypted radios to withhold their police communications, which were previously open to the public and news media via monitoring of public safety scanning radios — with no known negative results locally.

The delayed knowledge or entirely blacked out knowledge resulting from encrypted police communications may protect certain police operations and investigations, but it also puts the public at risk in situations such as when armed and dangerous offenders are at large and when other similar situations occur, such as when desperate offenders of property crimes are eluding police. In other cases, the delayed or blacked out information inhibits or prohibits the possibility of the public providing early witness accounts before a criminal trail goes cold. Citizens are much more likely to recognize or recall suspicious or criminal activity if they are aware of the criminal incident within minutes or hours of its occurrence. The most serious incident involving dire results would be a trail that is allowed to go cold in the case of child abduction.

The lack of real time information from public police dispatch also weakens an effective neighborhood watch program mostly working to prevent property loss, but also working to prevent possible violent crimes.

Lack of real time information from police dispatch also delays public awareness or eliminates public awareness of general hazards and traffic or other situations in every day living in an otherwise economically thriving community.

Police have alternate ways to transmit tactical, operational or investigative information, while still keeping their main public dispatch channels open for the best balance of public safety and police safety.

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