Orlando Sentinel article on FDLE’s Pulse Nightclub After-Action Report mischaracterized the findings of the report
Setting the Record Straight
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) sets high goals and demands the best of its members. The goal of the After-Action Report was to analyze FDLE response efforts, identify strengths to be maintained and built upon, identify potential areas for improvement, and support development of corrective actions. These types of reports have become a best practice following mass casualty events.
This article indicated FDLE’s role quickly expanded to include helping the FBI with the investigation, identifying the victims and notifying families who lost a loved one and that led to chaos and miscommunication at times.
Fact: FDLE members responded to the incident in an officer-involved shooting capacity. However, due to the scope of this event, the department soon transitioned to provide other assistance including the role of identifying victims and notifying their next of kin. And while the department does not have protocols in place for this type of process, FDLE command staff accepted this role to assist its partner agencies. Nowhere in the report does it state helping notify victim families led to chaos and miscommunication. Instead the report specifies “When FDLE members arrived at the hotel for next of kin notification, they encountered chaos and no plan of action for the operational processes.” Additionally, it goes on to state “Despite these challenges, SASs (supervisors), intelligence analysts and special agents displayed exceptional team work in these roles. FDLE SASs (supervisors) took leadership roles, provided direction and coordinated the various agency representatives working at the sites.” Encountering chaos is not the same as causing chaos. In fact, FDLE members were able to positively identify 48 of the 49 victims by 7 a.m. Monday.
Further, the Sentinel wrote the report also detailed problems that led to a statewide intelligence agency not immediately sharing information about the shooting, which led to a significant delay in getting details to law enforcement.
Fact: There were no delays in providing information to law enforcement. Notifications began around 4 a.m. Due to the type of intelligence being gathered and the level of the investigation being conducted immediately following the event, the Florida Fusion Center was directed by FDLE command staff not to disseminate specific pieces of information. This was a terrorist event and whether there were other potential targets or impacts had yet to be determined. Until the information and intelligence had been vetted, it could not be distributed to non-law enforcement FFC partners. Similar steps are taken following any event of this type.
Many of Orlando’s Regional Domestic Security Task Force resources were deployed to the Pulse incident immediately. Task Force chairs (FDLE Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks and Osceola County Sheriff Robert Hansell) were on scene communicating with other regional task forces ensuring deployment of additional resources from law enforcement to medical personnel to bomb squads.
It is unfortunate the Sentinel chose to sensationalize the report by providing inaccurate information.
By overstating the recommendations for improvement, while failing to mention the strengths noted in the report, the article is unbalanced and unfair to those law enforcement members who put their lives on the line the night of the Pulse attack and tirelessly worked the days following to ensure a safer Florida.