Conn. Police Chiefs Assoc. Report Says Newtown Police Responded Properly on Dec. 14, 2012

By Ari Mason
|  Thursday, Dec 5, 2013  |  Updated 8:40 PM EDT
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CPCA Report Says Newtown Police Responded Properly

Associated Press

A report conducted by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to examine the Newtown police response on Dec. 14, 2012, finds that “officers responded to the scene rapidly, positioned themselves appropriately, and followed their department policy.”

According to the report, released Dec. 5, the Newtown Police Department responded in keeping with its most recent training, adopted in 2003.

That training promotes quick engagement of the shooter and requires the first responding officers to “begin assessing the status and location of the threat” and “prepare for more than one threat or aggressor.”

And that’s what they did, the report says.

According to the report, Newtown officers first arrived on scene three minutes after the initial call was placed, at 9:38:53 a.m., and positioned themselves behind the school on Crestwood Drive.

Shooter Adam Lanza killed himself one minute and 10 seconds after police arrived at the school, according to the report. “Unfortunately this was not enough time to assess the situation, confront the exterior threats, and tactically enter the locked building and engage the shooter,” the report reads.

Newtown police protocol requires officers to consider the possibility of more than one shooter, according to the report. This was the initial thought when police began arriving on scene – just 19 seconds after the first officers pulled up, dispatch learned of two suspicious people outside the school.

Apprehending those people became the officers’ primary focus, and two minutes later, at 9:41:24 a.m., they had taken someone into custody. At 9:44:31 a.m., police reported that the person in custody may not have been related to the shootings, according to the report.

Police were cleared to enter the building less than one second later, at 9:44:05, but by then it was too late. Lanza shot and killed himself minutes earlier. The report of a “suspect down” came through at 9:51:31 a.m. after police had begun to search the building.

After that report, state and local police turned their attentions to the search for victims and survivors.

A dashboard camera captured one Newtown officer sprinting from the building with a wounded child in tow at 9:56:16 a.m. because the EMS had not yet been cleared for entry, the report reads. Children and faculty members were led from the building starting at 9:58:39 a.m.

Thus, the report concludes that Newtown officers followed their training and responded properly.

“Our evaluation showed that the officers of the Newtown Police Department navigated the inevitable chaos created in the first few minutes of such a call, managed to piece together what was occurring, but were unable to intervene before the shooter took his own life. While we cannot prove the shooter killed himself due to the police arrival, the history of like incidents suggests this may be the case,” the report concludes.

Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe requested the report in August of this year. It was compiled by a CPCA sub-committee comprising four chiefs from departments around the state. Those chiefs include committee chair and Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy, Groton Town Police Chief Michael Crowley, Torrington Police Chief Michael Maniago and South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed.

It drew upon 911 recordings, police radio transmissions, in-car surveillance footage, officer statements, the Newtown police duty roster from that day, Newtown police policy regarding active shooter situations and a timeline of events drafted following the incident

The timeline listed in the CPCA report is consistent with the information provided by the State’s Attorney’s report, released last week. Time codes differ only by fractions of a second.

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