In October of 2002 ten deaths and multiple injuries resulted from a killing spree by two conspiring snipers throughout regions of Washington, DC, Maryland, and central Virginia. The events took place over a period of 23 days during which there were several inaccurate reports and descriptions of the suspects that made the situation even more chaotic amid the terror being experienced by local populations. There were several lessons to be learned by the time that the suspects were finally apprehended while sleeping at a rest stop, each of which has helped to bolster law enforcement methods in response to similar situations. There were four factors identified as key to the investigation: careful planning, defining duties, efficient information management, and consistently effective communications (Peak, 2010). Experience gained from this incident has provided new insight into the systems associated with each factor.
The DC Sniper rampage raised many questions about the handling of emergency management in similar situations. Evacuation measures were questioning due to the recurring nature of the attacks in a relatively isolated area. Shortcomings in the planning and preparation area could contribute to negative outcomes in such a case. The way in which dialogue with the sniper was secretly being used and selectively released/leaked is questionable because it involved a high degree of public deception and facilitated the spread of misinformation. Communications variables clearly affected this situation, though the approach may have been necessary to maintain an uncompromised investigation. Observably, there was much difficulty in managing the information associated with this case. A consequence of the confusion was the sniper escaping on several occasions despite the vehicle being recorded near several shooting scenes. Law enforcement attention was focused on a white van at the time and so he was never pursued. The narrow perspective described here is a reflection of shortcomings in the delegation of duties.
Peak, K. J. (2010). Justice administration: Police, courts, and corrections management (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.