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DOJ critiques Metro's response to deadly ambush on Officers Beck and Soldo |

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DOJ critiques Metro's response to deadly ambush on Officers Beck and Soldo

The Department of Justice's, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) released Thursday its after-action assessment of the Metro's response to the ambush of two police officers, Alyn Beck, and Igor Soldo, on June 8, 2014.

The report titled, "Las Vegas After-Action Assessment: Lessons Learned from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Ambush Incident," provides a detailed analysis of that tragic day on June 8, 2014, and the events that followed. It also offers key findings to help law enforcement agencies better strategize efforts to maintain officer safety in incidents such as ambushes or active shooter situations.

The reports findings in regards to the response coordination and communications praised Metro Police for their actions in this extreme situation, but it also pointed out some areas for improvement. The area of improvement mainly consists of communication.

8 News NOW will break down the findings later in this article, but first let's rehash the events of that day and the events leading up to that day.

The assailants:

At the time of the ambush, 31-year-old Jerad Miller, and 22-year-old Amanda Miller embraced extremist anti-government and anti-law enforcement views. They felt the government overstepped its constitutional bounds, and they viewed the police as an extension of the "tyrannical" government, guilty of enforcing corrupt laws.

The report said both assailants wanted to effect change within the government and believed they could inspire others to join their revolution.

Months before the attack:

The report detailed a big ambush precursor leading up to the attack on the two officers at CiCi's Pizza, and it just happened to involved the Bundy ranch. According to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services report, back in April 2014, the Millers lived at the ranch owned by cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.

Bundy, who had been engaged in a dispute with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over cattle grazing since 1993 also shares sovereign citizen views and has publicly stated that he does not acknowledge the United States Federal Government, according to the report.

On April 5, 2014, the BLM and law enforcement rangers began rounding up livestock grazing on federal land without a permit. Bundy and other individuals associated with the Bundy ranch made public statements rallying sovereign citizen proponents, and in early April, armed citizens and private militia members converged on the Bundy ranch to oppose the BLM's cattle roundups.

Jerad was identified as a member of the ranch by the Al-Jazeera news agency in their coverage of the dispute on April 22, 2014. Jerad was quoted as promising retaliation if federal law enforcement "bring violence to us."

However, in the aftermath of the ambush of the officers on June 8, members of the Bundy ranch -- specifically Clive Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy -- renounced the Millers saying that they had only stayed at the ranch for a few days, but had been asked to leave because the couple was "very radical."

On June 7, 2014, the day before their attack on the officers at CiCi's Pizza, Amanda wrote in her journal that she and Jerad were officially homeless, according to the report. Their neighbor and friend (with whom they had reportedly been staying with) said that on the morning of June 8, 2014, the Millers left the apartment with shopping carts filled with supplies and ammunition, stating that they were planning to "go kill cops," but their rants weren't reported to authorities.

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, at 11:04 a.m., Officer Beck and Officer Soldo was eating lunch at the CiCi's Pizza located near the intersection of North Nellis and Stewart Avenue when Jerad entered the restaurant and interacted with an employee before leaving. Jerad re-entered minutes later, at 11:21 a.m., with his wife.

They walked over to the officers and shot and killed them, the report said.

The Millers then left the restaurant and went on foot to the Walmart located at 201 North Nellis Boulevard, less than one block away from the CiCi's Pizza. Once in hey shot off rounds up into the air and shouted at the shoppers, before eventually killing a good Samaritan.

Joseph Wilcox, 31, was shot and killed by Amanda as he was trying to sneak up and stop Jerad. Both Jerad and Amanda were eventually shot by officers. They both died from their injuries.

Findings: What worked and what didn't work in Metro's handling of the situation:

The reports findings in regards to the response coordination and communications show that the biggest issue for the department was a breakdown in communication.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services report revealed the LVMPD communications center, which includes dispatch and the 911 call center, was "burdened with repeated requests for updated information about the incident from LVMPD personnel."

To fix this issue, the report said law enforcement agencies should develop internal information-sharing procedures for critical incidents that balance the need for accurate and timely information sharing with the level of burden placed on key personnel.

Also, because of procedural issues in the LVMPD Dispatch Center, "not all information was communicated accurately and in a timely manner," the report said. Their findings said the notification distribution list for an OIS did not include the SWAT commander, which delayed SWAT response.

Also, the ambush incident was initially miscoded by a call taker in the dispatch center. The ambush incident in CiCi's Pizza was originally coded as a 415A ("assault/battery with a gun")--although the 911 transcripts include a clear description from the witness
that the victims were police officers, so code 444 ("officer needs help--emergency") should have been used.

Two key communications issues arose because of procedural problems in the LVMPD Dispatch Center: At the time of this incident, the SWAT team leader was not included on the OIS communicator distribution list. Because of the high volume of calls inundating LVMPD Dispatch as well as the fact that two dispatch supervisors were on lunch break at the time of the ambush, the SWAT team leader was not notified of the incident and asked to respond until 11:36 a.m.

This notification came nearly ten minutes after the first 911 call was received from the Walmart scene and nearly 15 minutes after the ambush of Officer Beck and Officer Soldo.

The LVMPD has since added the SWAT team leader to the OIS communicator distribution list to ensure a more timely notification process during future critical incidents, the report said.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services says, in conclusion, "the LVMPD did not properly establish incident command as outlined in the incident command system (ICS) approach, which resulted in confusion and miscommunication. Specifically, the incident commander role was not appropriately filled, and a staging area was not established, which hindered the coordination of the response at the incident site."

However, the report also praised Metro saying, "LVMPD's training program for officers ensured an effective tactical response during a chaotic and evolving incident, and that the department's use of RBT to prepare for various tactical scenarios provides a model for other agencies aiming to improve their preparedness for critical incidents."

It went on to say, "the LVMPD offers specialized ICS training to lieutenants in the department which addresses the importance of considering rank versus role. This training might benefit officers of all ranks that could be involved in critical incident response."

To read the full 52 page report go here.