The Shootings at Columbine High School: The Law Enforcement Response The case study of the Columbine shootings will be explored and the effectiveness of police and communication response systems will be examined. On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carried out a plan to execute several fellow students and faculty staff at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, before finally executing themselves. The school tragedy raised several issues such as stricter gun laws, media reporting, school bullying, and emergency response systems. From what the public has been told about the two Columbine students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were believed to be the victims of bullying. As a result of feeling unpopular and social outcasts compared to their classmates, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold developed an attraction to violent video games and displayed negative behavior leading up to the school tragedy. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold devised a plan to seek revenge on the school and ultimately killed twelve students and one teacher. This tragic incident gives an example of how law enforcement and first responders can experience communication breakdowns. “Those who have information may fail to tell those who need information as a basis of action; those who should transmit the information may fail to do so; those who receive information may be unwilling or unable to assimilate it” (Stillman, 2010 pg.255). In the Columbine shootings, there were many forms of information being communicated to various response outlets such as the initial calls for help. The first initial call that was received from the dispatch was received on April 20, 1999 at 11:23 am that reported a female was down in the parking lot. This was the first call for help and was an indication that something at the high school was happening. A half an hour later, there were several police and fire personnel at Columbine high school but the initial problem was that the responders were not aware what actually was occurring inside the school and who was responsible. The initial distress call did not provide accurate information and a series of conflicted reports flooded the communication lines. To begin to understand the breakdown of communication among law enforcement, I will answer the questions in the case study. What effect did the unavailability of up to date floor plans for Columbine High School have on police choices? Why were current maps not readily on hand? The first critical problem was that law enforcement did not receive accurate floor plans of Columbine high school. Columbine high school was a large expansive school and had been recently updated in 1995. The cafeteria was no longer located on the east side of the building as it appeared in the floor plans that the SWAT team had been given. Although, there were copies of the schools previous floor plan, first responders had no knowledge that they did not have the schools current floor plan or maps. In fact, the SWAT team had to rely on a student’s drawing to assist in determining the location of various rooms such as the library and cafeteria. Local officials were so quick in responding to the school that they neglected to familiarize themselves with the schools layout and this added to the confusion once SWAT team members were able to gain access into the school.
Why did ultimately a thousand law enforcement officers arrive at Columbine from surrounding metro-Denver jurisdictions? What were the effects upon those already there attempting to cope with the emergency? What accounted for such ineffective coordination among various units? There were many law enforcement officers that arrived at the Columbine shooting from different jurisdictions. This was primarily due to the fact that Columbine was very close to several police agencies and many officers picked up radio calls from their own dispatches. In addition to this, some of the