SPOKANE, Wash. -- Boston turned into a ghost town after authorities ordered everyone to stay inside and told businesses not to open. The entire mass-transit system was also shut down as police SWAT teams and other agencies surrounded the area.
Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub admitted shutting down a city is a massive undertaking and requires constant communication with other law enforcement groups, whether it be county, state or federal. Straub says Spokane is ready for an event like this, big or small.
“I talked with our local FBI office this morning. Right now, there is no information to suggest a specific threat to the state of Washington, or to our Spokane, Coeur d’Alene area. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant,” Straub said.
Straub’s heart is with the families and friends of the Boston officers who have been in a heightened state since Monday, but his mind knows it’s the new reality of police work.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever trained to shut down the city, but we certainly train with the county and our federal partners,” Straub said.
The Spokane Police Department is in constant contact with its partners, including the sheriff’s office, Washington State Patrol, FBI and other agencies. While terrorists may not strike the city, there are plenty of criminals who can, and often do.
“No jurisdiction can survive these types of things by themselves. You have to be able to work across the board and partner in the things you should be doing. Training is key,” Straub said.
Together, the agencies reenact scenarios and test their strengths and weaknesses for everything from SWAT standoffs and active shooters to securing major events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest. Local law enforcement say shutting down a city is always a last resort, but they are ready for it if a situation ever comes to that.
Local agencies worked together on one big criminal event in particular within the last year. They, like Boston authorities, dealt with multiple crime scenes and an active shooter the day Charles Wallace shot two Spokane County deputies last summer.
On June 19, 2012, the 16-time convicted felon put the entire community at risk and wasn’t afraid to take aim at whomever got in his way.
“This is becoming, more and more, the reality of what law enforcement has to contend with. We see very aggressive offenders, and very well armed offenders,” Straub said.
The first priority is always to contain the danger, and just like authorities learned with Wallace, that only works when they work together.
“It takes a lot of work, so the more you train together, the better you’ll be able to do that,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.
The sheriff’s office is still breaking down that double-shooting to better determine what they did right, and what they can do better.
The police chief openly admits the department needs the community to be effective. It’s why they say any time a citizen sees something suspicious, call the authorities.