Sheriff Joe Lombardo on Wednesday released the results of an internal Metropolitan Police Department review that he says “closes the book” on the Oct. 1 Strip massacre of 2017. But the book will never close on the most heinous criminal act in Nevada history, particularly for the families of the dead — not to mention the injured, the emergency personnel and others who will forever be haunted by the evil unleashed on Las Vegas that Sunday evening.
The sheriff’s choice of words aside, the review was an important undertaking that should strengthen the department’s ability to prevent and respond to future events. “We hope that we never have to use these procedures that we are putting in place,” Sheriff Lombardo said at a news conference, “but we owe the public an assurance that we will always put their safety and their well-being first.”
Among areas of concern that Metro will address:
■ Improvements in communication. Many officers found spotty radio service in some areas, while flooding the airwaves with emergency calls that disrupted other transmissions.
■ More orderly deployment of off-duty personnel during crises. The shooting — at a music festival carried out by a gunman perched at a window in a Mandalay Bay hotel room — prompted many off-duty officers to selflessly descend on the scene, causing confusion at times.
■ A shortage of trauma kits and other equipment necessary during times of mass casualties. In many cases, emergency personnel resorted to using shirts, belts and other items as tourniquets.
The sheriff said the review has led to the creation of a 24/7 team formed to handle large-scale incidents — a “major case investigative group” — to better coordinate law enforcement response.
The report also noted the conspiracy theories that emerged after Metro released an inaccurate timeline of the shooting that it later corrected. While it certainly isn’t unusual for initial assumptions in rapidly evolving events to change as more information becomes available, Sheriff Lombardo might do his department a favor and recognize that he and other Metro officials contributed to the spread of such nonsense by later refusing to make public various documents, video footage and other pertinent information regarding the shooting.
In fact, the department fought a losing legal battle all the way to the state Supreme Court in an effort to keep secret certain details about its response to the tragedy. To this day, the department continues to drag its heels when dealing with the release of public documents.
The logistical improvements stemming from Oct. 1 will better equip Metro to limit casualties if, heaven forbid, a similar incident were to occur. In the meantime, the sheriff should also re-evaluate Metro’s counterproductive aversion to transparency and accountability.