Special Committee Submits Bomb Call After-Action Report to Chief Drake
Chief John Drake today announced that the MNPD is implementing recommendations contained in an after-action report submitted to him last Friday afternoon by a special five-member committee that examined the department’s August 2019 response to allegations concerning Christmas Day 2020 bomber Anthony Warner.
The committee, formed by Chief Drake on January 7, 2021, and chaired by Nashville attorney and former United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Ed Yarbrough, was tasked with focusing on August 2019 events to determine whether any gaps existed from which the department can learn moving forward. Joining Yarbrough were Metro Council Member Jennifer Gamble, chair of the Public Safety Committee, Community Oversight Board Executive Director Jill Fitcheard, MNPD Deputy Chief Dwayne Greene, and attorney/MNPD Professional Standards Division head Kathy Morante.
“While the committee concluded that there is no way to know for sure whether the Christmas Day bombing could have been prevented, and that patrol officers followed protocols and procedures during the August 2019 call, deficiencies were identified in the follow-up investigative process,” Chief Drake said. “It is of paramount importance to all of us that any deficiencies are corrected.”
“A significant issue was the lack of documentation of investigative actions taken by the Hazardous Devices Unit. That has been fixed and a number of other safeguards have been implemented,” Chief Drake said.
The department accepts the committee’s recommendations that precinct-based detectives join with the Hazardous Devices Unit (HDU) in investigating bomb-related incidents; that the MNPD have a dedicated representative on the Joint Terrorism Task Force; that there be separate criminal and counterterrorism intelligence components in the Specialized Investigations Division; and that the MNPD’s Executive Staff be updated immediately concerning any major cases involving viable threats or terrorism.
The committee further recommended:
- Require that all efforts to follow-up with any individual regarding an HDU investigation be documented, even if the efforts do not result in progress or contact. Such actions should include, but are not limited to, attempts to call, attempts to contact, number of times knocked on a suspect’s door, computer checks, database checks, etc.—RECOMMENDATION BEING IMPLEMENTED THROUGH HDU COMPONENT POLICY
- Conduct random quarterly audits of Hazardous Devices Unit case files to ensure that the best investigative practices are being used and all documentation is being properly completed—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED
- Establish a monthly explosive summit attended by MNPD Hazardous Devices Unit technicians, MNPD Specialized Investigations Division representatives, FBI representatives, ATF representatives, and Tennessee Department of Homeland Security representatives. During the summit, representatives discuss investigations and what casework should take place to further those investigations—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED; FBI, ATF & TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY AGREE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MONTHLY SUMMIT.
- Following each Explosive Summit meeting, the captain of the Special Operations Division or his/her designee will distribute an email to the precinct commander whose geographical area is affected by an investigation in order to keep that commander updated on situations that could impact precinct-based officers/detectives—RECOMMENDATION TO BE IMPLEMENTED
- Initiate a four-part confirmative closure prior to officially marking a case inactive, so as to ensure the original information has not changed.
- A reasonable attempt shall be made to follow-up with the reporting person, complainant, or those who have information related to the allegation/incident;
- Federal database checks shall be conducted through the FBI, ATF, DEA, DHS and other applicable agencies;
- State and local database checks shall be conducted through the MNPD, State of Tennessee, Joint Terrorism Task Force, and other applicable components;
- The Specialized Investigations Division shall be contacted for a final database and online check, and if an investigation is halted due to lack of probable cause or other legal reason, the MNPD’s Case Preparation component, legal advisor, and/or the District Attorney’s Office should be contacted to discuss the full scope of options.—RECOMMENDATION TO BE IMPLEMENTED
- Remind all MNPD officers, through roll call training, of the legal resources available to assist them in determining whether sufficient probable cause exists to seek a search warrant. The roll call training should emphasize that the greater the potential danger to the community and its citizens, the more likely it should be to seek legal consultation.—RECOMMENDATION ACCEPTED; DEVELOPMENT IN PROGRESS
- Submit a State of Tennessee “Suspicious Activity Report” (SAR) on all Hazardous Devices Unit calls where the totality of the circumstances would lead an investigator to reasonably believe that more investigative efforts would be needed, or if the HDU technician believes the information could assist with other investigative efforts. The SAR report is designed to distribute information regarding suspicious activity throughout an established distribution network that includes the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Tennessee Fusion Center, and other state & federal partners. All acquired information is then analyzed and compared with other information from around the country to determine if the respective data—when correlated with additional data via integrative analysis—can assist in finding and defining larger criminal frameworks.—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED
“The after-action analysis produced by the five-member special committee contains important recommendations that will significantly strengthen this police department’s bomb-related investigations,” Chief Drake said. “I am extremely grateful to Ed Yarbrough, Jennifer Gamble, Jill Fitcheard, Dwayne Greene and Kathy Morante for their diligent and focused work over the past several months.”
“Members of Hazardous Devices Units, or bomb squads, are dedicated, highly trained individuals, this police department’s HDU included,” Chief Drake said. “The after-action recommendations being implemented will make their work even better for our city and the Middle Tennessee region.”