While the Pacific Northwest is a long way from Europe, coincidentally in the wake of Monday’s terror attack in Manchester, England, Seattle’s KIRO reported on a Tuesday law enforcement drill about responding to a “security threat” aboard a Washington State ferry.
Call it incredible timing of two unrelated events, but the drill brings home the realization that even in parts of the world several time zones apart, the potential for danger seems never far away.
A state ferries spokesman suggested that such preparedness has a direct link to the Manchester massacre.
“It’s just one of the ways we prepare to make sure something like what happened in Manchester last night doesn’t happen here,” Ian Sterling of Washington State Ferries told KIRO.
The Evergreen State is not unique in that state ferries are part of the state highway system. But Washington has lots of ferries, aboard which thousands of commuters and tourists travel every day. Monday night in Manchester may have been a wake-up call that acts of terrorism can happen anywhere, even on the waters of Puget Sound.
The KIRO story noted that the U.S. Coast Guard conducted the Tuesday drill to train local law enforcement about how to respond to threats aboard a ferry.
There was something missing from the story: Response time. On land it’s tough enough for police to be immediately on the scene of a crime. On the water, that problem can be compounded because marine units could be miles away, if they are even available, depending upon the jurisdiction.
The story noted that “there are also security measures you don’t see.” The ferry system would not elaborate when contacted by Liberty Park Press.
In addition there might be Coast Guard escorts and dogs that sniff explosives.
And that leads to another missing component: The armed private citizen. It is not out of the realm of possibility that in an incident on a ferry, a law-abiding citizen might be forced by circumstances to be the proverbial “first responder.”
Washington State Patrol Sgt. James Prouty told Liberty Park Press that training does take that potential into consideration. They train to sort out the good guys from the bad guys.
It would essentially be the same dilemma faced by police responding to an attack at a shopping mall or some other public place where an armed citizen is first to intervene. The odds against that may have once been astronomical, but today, with an estimate of more than 15 million legally-licensed/permitted citizens, the odds may be shrinking. Texas and Florida each have more than one million active carry licenses in circulation. Washington State has more than a half-million and the number is rising.
The last high-profile terror incidents on American soil were at Ohio State University, a nightclub in Orlando and a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minn. In two cases, the perpetrators used knives to slash victims and in Ohio, the man rammed a crowd beforehand with a car. In Orlando, the killer used a gun to mow people down in a so-called “gun-free” building. All three men were fatally shot.
While it may not be possible to prevent acts of terrorism in the U.S., it is possible to fight back. With incidents like Manchester to keep the threat of terrorism fresh on everyone’s mind, it may fall to an armed citizen to stop it before police arrive.