Wednesday, November 14 2012 10:10 AM EST2012-11-14 15:10:33 GMT
LAS VEGAS -- Security experts said Las Vegas will always be a tempting target, not only for terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai, India four years ago this month, but also for lone gunmen who wantMore>>
Security experts said Las Vegas will always be a tempting target, not only for terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai, India four years ago this month, but also for lone gunmen who want to cause maximum damage.More>>
LAS VEGAS -- Metro Police quietly instituted the Multi-Assailant Counter Terrorism Action Capabilities training – or MAC-TAC -- after a privately funded delegation from Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Police Department went to Mumbai, India, to study a attack there that involved multiple gunmen. Instead of training special teams to respond to multiple gunmen, Metro decided that every officer would have to be ready. The training aims to ready every officer no matter how big or how small a shooting rampage might be.
Four years ago this month, 10 paramilitary attackers armed with assault weapons, hand grenades and homemade bombs unleashed hell in Mumbai, murdering everyone in their path in coordinated attacks at multiple locations, including popular hotels. For 60 hours, the images spilled into American living rooms.
Among those watching the carnage was Metro Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody. By the time it was over, nearly 500 people had been injured or killed and Mumbai was paralyzed.
"It was very apparent to me the game had been changed," Moody said. "The idea again was to kill as many people as they could, do as much damage as they could, fight off the first responders as long as they could and end it in their own deaths."
Prior to Mumbai, Metro's strategy for dealing with what's called an active shooter had been shaped by a couple of incidents, including the infamous North Hollywood Bank shootout of 1997, 1999's deadly Columbine High School rampage that left 13 people dead and the carnage inflicted by ex-marine Zane Floyd inside a Las Vegas grocery store. Active shooter training called for a quick and overwhelming response by police, but Moody and his boss, Sheriff Doug Gillespie, knew from Mumbai that such a response would invite disaster.
"They leave themselves very vulnerable to secondary attack," Moody said. "They take themselves off the table in terms of their ability to respond to another location in case of multiple attacks as occurred in Mumbai."
Metro teamed up with the LAPD to develop a new approach. Moody was part of a delegation to Mumbai. Their study of what went wrong led to the creation of MAC-TAC, a new model for American police agencies.
Metro Sgt. Joe Martin spent 20 years in the military, one reason he was qualified to supervise a retraining program involving every Metro officer. Like higher-ups at Metro, Martin knew that the events in Mumbai changed everything stateside. It proved that just a few men, with easily obtainable weaponry, could cause extreme havoc.
"When we talk about MAC-TAC, we go from crimefighter to warfighter mentality," Martin said. "The one thing I immediately started thinking about is, if we had an incident like that here, how would we respond to it?"
One of the biggest challenges in the MAC-TAC approach is to teach police to resist their primal instincts to speed toward danger. It happened when a gunman opened fire at the federal courthouse downtown. So many officers responded that the area was clogged with officers. If it had been a diversionary attack, it could have been a major disaster. A key component of MAC-TAC is to have a plan in place before committing too many resources to an active shooter scenario, to work as a team not as individual crime fighters.
"Instead of just rushing into an incident, especially a terrorist type incident where they may have superior firepower and they may have explosive devices, we need to work as a team to eliminate that threat," Martin said.
And elimination means exactly what it sounds like:
"We would engage them immediately," Moody said. "There wouldn't be any standing by. There wouldn't be any waiting. ... They are not here to negotiate. We know what they are here to do. And we know what we have to do."
Every Metro officer received ongoing training and testing as part of the MAC-TAC program. What happens if terrorists take over the Stratosphere or the Meadows Mall or a school? The police have planned for each of these scenarios, and they want the bad guys to know about it. Tonight at 11, the I-Team take you along for the equivalent of these war games, and tell you how likely it is that Las Vegas would ever be targeted.