Vargas: Paris attack resonates for local law enforcement


The events in Paris were tragic and heartbreaking. In one day, a handful of terrorists managed to lock down and mobilize an entire country. It should also remind us how volatile our world is and the necessity of police forces across the country to be prepared for just about anything.

You have to wonder how many extremists, zealots, or just plain old crazies are taking in the Paris events right now and the wheels and gears are turning in their disturbed brains.

As the events in Paris unfolded, a couple disturbing facts have immediately come to light. The terrorists themselves were born and raised in France. They appear to have been radicalized locally, then trained abroad. Still to be determined is whether the local events were their own design or dictated from abroad.

When events like this occur, it causes police agencies to reflect on how prepared they are to deal with escalating events that are both brutal and powerful in their impact. Are we trained enough? Do we have the equipment we need? Have we prepared our communities in how to respond? There are countless assessments that have to be made.

Consistently across the world one of the methods of choice for terrorists and deranged individuals is the active shooter, Paris just being the latest example. It seems few people remember the 2008 Mumbai attacks where a handful of terrorists killed 164 people and wounded at least 308 more over four days.

In our own country in 2012, James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and wounded 70 others in a matter of minutes in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. And who can forget Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Jersey? Twenty children and six staff members killed by a seriously disturbed Adam Lanza.

It doesn’t take much for anyone to look around their communities and wonder where the probable targets are. These could be shopping centers, religious establishments, schools or any area where large groups of people gather.

Police departments have to play this tragic guessing game all the time. If you can imagine it, then you have to prepare for it. People’s lives depend on it.

As always, agencies strive to prepare and train for the battle they pray never comes. But if the worst should happen, all of us should feel assured that local agencies are doing all they can to make sure we remain safe and if necessary respond quickly and appropriately.