Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sutherland Springs, Texas Mass Shooting – Could it have been prevented? Yes!

Just for the sake of identifying my topic, I will use his name (Devin Kelley).  I wish I had never heard it.  His very existence is an abomination, and an enduring stain on his family and anyone who ever called him friend.  Thankfully, he is dead.

I’ve written many times on my blog about ‘gun control’ and my feelings regarding same.  I feel that most who offer opinions on how to prevent incidents like what took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas are well meaning, but largely uninformed.

There are, of course, numerous elements in our society believed to have contributed to the nurturing and development of someone like a Devin Kelley.  You have heard them before.  Blame is ubiquitous in our society:  the media, gun control, lack of mental health services, traumatic childhood, violent movies and video games; even one might blame less than adequate law enforcement.

Nonetheless, based on my past career experience in federal law enforcement (FBI); local law enforcement (Sheriff’s Office); as a corporate security manager with a Fortune 100 company; and as a private investigator, I will put forth my opinion - my proposed solution - not a cure all, but an important step.

This country needs a 'national hotline.'  A place where citizens can anonymously report perceived or potential criminality and potentially dangerous individuals.  I propose that this ‘hotline’ be a division within the Department of Homeland Security and be staffed by properly trained operators available on a 24 hour basis.  This concept is quite commonly used in large corporations.  It could be implemented on a nationwide level.

How many times have you heard the incredibly clich├ęd, entirely useless comment?  “If you see something, tell someone.”  And who might that be:  The FBI?  The Bureau would probably cut you off before you got two sentences out – with the comment “contact your local police.”  The local police?  Good luck with that.  Overworked, chances are they would immediately write you off as a ‘nut,’ and attempt to placate you with:  “We’ll look into it.”

Listen, I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with all levels of law enforcement and if someone were to ask me:  “Who should I call?”  I would tell them that I have no good suggestions.  I mean you can try, but 99% of the time it will fall on deaf ears.

Probably the best way to report information is to write it up in some detail and mail it, return receipt requested.  Of course, you would not be anonymous – you’re walking out on a limb; but it kind of puts the locals or the Feds on the spot to take it somewhat seriously.  And, it should be understood that you expose yourself to possible danger (if the subject of your tip finds out) or a law suit (if you caused an innocent person to be placed under undue suspicion or actually caused them harm.)

That said, how will this national hotline work?  Well, the operators receiving calls (or it could be information anonymously received via email or regular post) would have to be extensively trained to sift through incoming information.  The FBI has made significant strides in ‘profiling’ and would necessarily be involved in the training process.  This would be the first line of analysis or filtration.

The subsequent step would involve a national record check to include all federal and state crimes as well as civil matters such as ‘restraining orders.’

Then social media would be searched.  There is information via the net on almost everyone at this point – as we all know or at least should know.  Why not use it?

And finally, any information evaluated as credible would be turned over to the FBI, or in some instances local law enforcement agencies, for follow-up.  Crank calls or repeat crank callers could be identified and filtered out through a data base.  Repeat offenders could be prosecuted in the same manner that bomb threats are evaluated and prosecuted.

The FBI would perhaps require some expanded authority or additional personnel to handle credible information regarding aggravated situations or threats.

We have all this technology available.  All this information available.  Why not use it to prevent some of these tragic incidents?

Would it or could it have prevented the Las Vegas shooting?  I don’t know.  It might have.

Would it or could it have prevented the shooting in Sutherland Springs?  Almost certainly.

Would it or could it constitute an invasion of public privacy?  No.

Almost all of the potential information sources set forth above are now available to any good private investigator.  I can attest to that.

Some might say that the process would be overwhelming to available resources.  I do not agree.  Large companies with thousands of employees use ‘hot lines.’  They are not overwhelmed.  Generally large companies ‘outsource’ or contract for those services which would probably not be compatible with a government program.  However, if the government was serious, it could be done.  And, it would be undoubtedly productive.

True Nelson