Posts Tagged ‘massacre’

h1

Norway’s incompetent police were to blame for high death toll in mass killings

July 27, 2011

Right now the people of Norway, and especially the families of those killed, are grieving for the dead, and are more concerned with looking after survivors than with apportioning blame for what happened last week. The mood is one of sorrow more than of anger.

I predict that the mood will change radically in the days and weeks ahead.

It took the police over an hour and a half to reach the island of Utoeya.

I know that if I were a parent of one of the victims of last week’s massacre I would certainly be demanding to know why it took the police so long to take action to save my child’s life.

These young people were calling and texting their families and friends for the best part of two hours while they tried to evade a gunman who was able to pick them off at his leisure. “Where are the police? When are they coming?” were the questions they asked over and over again.

There is NO excuse for this. This was negligence and incompetence on a grand scale. Norway is a rich and well-resourced country. It has a well-equipped police force and emergency services. It isn’t Iraq or Gaza. There is no shortage of police personnel, cars, or helicopters.

It was the delay in getting armed police to the island that gave the madman all the time he needed to systematically hunt down and execute his victims.

Media helicopters were hovering over the island, filming the killings from the air, long before the police arrived (it takes ten minutes to get from Oslo to Utoeya by helicopter). That is an absolute disgrace.

Norway’s Justice Minister Knut Storberget praised the police for their “fantastic” work after the attacks. Fantastic? Hardly. Unless he was using the word in its original sense of “impossible to believe”.

The police themselves have been defending their dismal performance in responding to the attacks. “I don’t think we could have done this (reach the site of the massacre) faster,” Police Chief of Staff Johan Fredriksen told journalists in Oslo. If that’s true, it’s a damning admission.

If the Norwegian police can’t reach the scene of an ongoing crime less than 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the country’s capital city in less than an hour and a half, and if they seriously believe that they did a good job in getting there in that time, they should all resign without delay, including – and especially – Police Chief Fredriksen.

Even assuming they had to go from Oslo (were there no police closer to the scene?), they averaged approximately 12mph (about 19kmph) – less than the speed of the average cyclist – in response to an emergency in which children were being picked off by a lunatic with an automatic weapon.

By any standards this was a dazzling display of stupidity and ineptitude.

It has been argued that the police didn’t expect anything like this to happen, and that they were “wrong-footed”. That might be true (although “flat-footed” would seem to be a more apt description), but it’s not good enough. Their job is to be prepared for all eventualities. Even allowing – generously – for their having been “taken by surprise”, an hour and a half is at least an hour longer than it should have taken them to get to Utoeya island. No matter which way you cut it, this was a pathetic response, and it almost certainly cost the lives of the majority of those killed. Even the gunman himself commented that he was surprised at how long the police took to get there and stop him.

Engine failure is said to have delayed the arrival of one commando police boat by ten minutes. This is a lame excuse to say the least. They had plenty of boats, and there was no shortage of civilian boats – and helicopters – that could have been commandeered.

This was a Keystone Kops response to an emergency situation that called for competence, preparedness and efficiency. Scores of lives were lost on the island of Utoeya as a result of police stupidity and lack of professionalism.

The families of those who were killed or injured have every reason to be angry and to demand a full public inquiry and, in the meantime, the immediate resignation of the Chief of Police and every senior police officer who contributed to this tragedy of errors.

Advertisements