Like most people with access to a TV, I’ve been watching events unfold in the Boston area this morning, and as of this writing it appears that one of the Boston Marathon bombers has been killed in a shootout with police and the other is still being sought within a police perimeter. A campus police officer from MIT has also been killed.
I’m struck by the logistical quagmire the manhunt cannot help but turn into. It appears as though every cop in the area is at the scene. As I watch on television I see police officers from the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, and many others. Added to them are the Massachusetts State Police and the hodgepodge of federal agencies involved. Each of these agencies has its own communications system and its own chain of command, some of which may not mesh well.
The FBI is the lead investigating agency and I can see an FBI SWAT team preparing to deploy, but the FBI does not have sufficient manpower to conduct the kind of house-to-house search demanded by this morning’s events. Tactical teams from several departments will have to be used, and coordination between them will be a challenge. Let’s say officers from one agency are searching an area and they flush the suspect out of hiding, but he then flees into an area being searched by another agency — the speed at which that information is shared can literally be the difference between life and death.
I’ll be watching and praying for a conclusion with no further bloodshed.