Saturday, March 12, 2005


Atlanta Courthouse Murders - Heads will Roll

Rumor has it that heads are gonna roll. The new sheriff may have been in his position for only a few months, but it seems he has a lot to answer for. Specifically...
1. Why wasn't security beefed up after it was requested on Thursday?
2. Why wasn't there a procedure in place to lock down the courthouse once shots were heard?
3. Are any procedures in place that are drilled regularly like tornado drills and fire drills to practice hostage situations and shootings inside the courthouse? And if not, why not?
4. Why were memos that warned the security ratio of defendants to deputies was out of line ignored?
5. Was it acceptable under current protocols to allow only one deputy to escort a defendant from the new courthouse holding area to the old courthouse? And if so, why?
6. Was the BOLO that was issued to the agencies in the Atlanta area also extended to Marta?
7. Are the protocols written in such a way that a football player was allowed to be escorted by one middle-aged female deputy? Did political correctness play a role in the protocols instead of common sense?
8. Once the perpetrator left the building, why were no roadblocks set up in concentric rings around the area?
9. Why wasn't the entire parking garage searched?
10. Once the car was determined not to have left the parking garage, were tracking dogs brought in to determine how the perpetrator might have left? If not, why not?
11. How quickly was it determined that Nichols was the perpetrator of the assault in Buckhead at 10:40? What steps were taken once this was determined?
12. How could Nichols navigate the crowds around the Marta station and the extra security that was added for the SEC tournament and no one spotted him?
13. Were the officers that were on security for the SEC notified that this guy was in the area? If not, why not when that area was a target rich zone?
14. Have the clothes that he ditched been found?
15. Does Marta have the capacity to "live monitor" their cameras? Were they asked to with specific instructions to this individual?
16. Why didn't the Marta cameras pick up Nichols entering or exiting their stations?
17. When it was learned that he was asking for directions to Lenox, was security at the mall enhanced? If not, why not?
18. When the new sheriff assumed his duties, did he review the procedures that were in place at the jail and courthouse?
19. Did the sheriff make any changes to procedures in the jail or courthouse since he was hired? What were they?
20. Did the new sheriff have a channel for officers to express any concerns they had in regards to security or for any changes they might feel could improve the security to be expressed and acted upon?
21. Why was the coordination and search so poorly handled that all avenues for escape at all points were not explored before they were discarded for the Amber alert posting of the green Honda?
22. Which search procedures would have been altered if the green Honda had been found earlier in the day? How much time and manpower was lost by missing this piece of evidence?
23. Why were the police so wedded to the theory that the perpetrator was in a vehicle, when they had no way to verify this assumption?
24. How could manpower have been redirected if it were known he was using Marta to travel?
These are just some of the questions that all agencies need to answer. Many of the answers are obvious watching the activities of the last few days and common sense solutions should prevail without any turf wars or political wrangling. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and nothing will change without a lot of kicking and screaming by the agencies and muckety mucks involved. The public is ready to do some kicking and it is in the asses of the brass that allowed this security situation to devolve this mess.

I don't believe that "heads will roll" over this tragedy just as no heads rolled after 911. Those who were in charge at the time will huff and puff to the media; as time goes by people forget, something new will come up in the media to replace this incident.
I worked in corrections 23 years. When you advise top management of potential problems like this one they rationalize, saying "that will never happen". After it happens, they rationalize that "it will never happen again".
I doubt that anyone will be replaced. Nothing much will change.
How sad.
Killer list! Glad Geraldo has it. (Sorry for the long comments but I don't have my own blog so it's all you... :-)

Wanted to nominate an additional item, one that reveals just how inept the Atlanta cops really were:

Even if the APD was too moronic to challenge their operating assumptions (e.g. that the car had left the garage) or too lazy to do an end-to-end search (#9) -- shouldn't they at least have looked at the entrance/exit camera videotape, if only to see which way the "green Honda" was headed?

("Gee, did he make a left or a right turn out of the deck? Let's go look at the tape and see!")

If they'd done that this would've all been over by Friday morning or afternoon.

In contrast to #9 -- where the APD can say "even the FBI didn't consider that the car might still be parked there" -- this one has no wiggle room at all. Even a lazy cop who thought the car was long gone could/should have at least done this.
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