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Sniper Road Blocks

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  • Sniper Road Blocks

    Well, the sniper finally hit us while I was working. What a Charlie Foxtrot. Organized chaos barely explains it but it all came together smoothly and I can't believe what a massive operation it was.

    First I want to acknowledge MikeTx for changing his thread title and acknowledging that calling us terrorists wasn't right. I understand he has concerns about cops wearing masks.

    From reading the the masked cop at roadblock thread, there is something that I think non-DC residents here don't get about this situation.

    If you aren't from this area you don't get the roadblock situation. This isn't one roadblock on one Interstate.

    We have three "States" here (if you include DC) -VA, MD, and DC. The major highway that links them is a beltway -RT 495 around DC. It travels through MD and VA passing through Montgomery CO, Prince George's CO, and Fairfax CO, and the City of Alexandria. DC is crisscrossed by other major roads like 395 and 50 which connect 495 in different points. In VA we have 95 heading north to 495 and 395. 66 is an E/W highway from DC through Arlington and Fairfax County. RT 267 is also an E/W highway connecting 66 and Arlington with some of the Northwest suburbs. Then there are all the major roads like 193, 7, 7100, 15, 29, 50, 17.

    All the interstates and major highways are 4 lanes in each direction, some have additional HOV lanes. The major roads are at least 2 lanes in each direction. The highways have dozens of access points in each jurisdiction. This place is a nightmare of roads that crisscross through all the jursidictions.

    When the sniper hit us on Monday night we had all these major roads to shut down and one road block on a highway required at least four cops. We also had cops sitting on and blocking ramps. That's just for one side, the other direction had to have the same kind of coverage. We had to do that on every one of the major roads in our area. Other jurisdictions responded and did the same in their areas. And we still had to cover our usual calls for service.

    There were probably 200-300 cops and federal agents just at the scene. Cops had to be pulled in for perimeter security and scene searches. People were called out of their homes to respond.

    An undercover officer who was tasked to assist on a roadblock would wear a mask to protect his job. Especially with the media present. If you had a heartbeat and a badge you were needed on this operation somewhere so chances are UC's were used.

    We are extremely vulnerable to the sniper if he is in the roadblock. We are sitting ducks in the spotlights looking at each car. If the sniper decided to get out and shoot he'd probably get one or two of us before we could get some kind of cover (there really isn't any in the middle of a highway -the jersey walls have drop offs). Having a cover officer with the type of weaponry shown in the picture would have been great. Our 9mm handguns and shotguns aren't much match for a semi-auto .223.

    The only reason around here someone wears a mask like that is when they are UC and are being exposed somehow. We don't routinely wear masks when we are out and about. He was simply on the lookout and available as a cover officer.
    As far as the "facing your accuser" argument goes, we weren't looking for DWI's or drugs or other violations. We were looking for vehicles that were BOLO from the shooting, ID'ing the driver and searching the car (with consent). Officers in uniform were performing these citizen contacts, not masked UC's...

    Utilizing a UC in a road block as depicted was an extraordinary measure. There was such a massive area that needed to get locked down and resources are stretched so thin that it is necessary even if not everyone agrees with it. One thing you learn as a cop anyway, you can't please all the people all the time. People may not like the masked cover officer but that doesn't mean it wasn't reasonable under the circumstances.

    Aside from that I could not believe that we actually were able to shut down what we did. It was pretty wild hearing on the radio what was locked down. I have also been pleasantly surprised at how much support and appreciation we are getting from most people around here. I guess something like this makes people appreciate the cops who still go on and put themselves in the line of fire to catch this sniper. So many people have been very encouraging and gratious. Even the folks that are getting yanked out of cars at gun point have been gratefull and appreciative of our efforts. They understand what's at stake and are willing to help out in any way they can. I have not had a consent search refused and people are always thanking me. We've been working some loooong hours and have given up time with our families for this. And despite that and the frustration of seeing this guy slipping through our fingers, it's worth it when people are so thankfull for what we're doing.
    I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones

  • #2
    Very well explained. Even I understood THAT.
    "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
    -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division

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    • #3
      valor55, good luck and good hunting. Stay safe.
      Bill R

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      • #4
        Thanks for explaining, although I knew why you guys were doing what you did from the beginning.

        Best of luck to you guys, be safe and watch your six.

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        • #5
          valor,

          Thanks for explaining to give us a better understanding of what's going on there.

          Most importantly, please be safe and watch your back.

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          • #6
            I have a nagging question...How long from the time of the initial 911 call to an effective roadblock?
            "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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            • #7
              I may be oversensitive but it may not be a good idea to disclose that.
              Bill R

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              • #8
                The sniper probably has a very good idea what response times are like. The media has even covered it a little bit. I'll refrain from commenting on the specifics. As far as our weaponry it's no secret what we have in our cruisers so that's not news. We do have other assets being utilized in different ways, we aren't taking any chances we don't absolutely have to.
                I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones

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                • #9
                  valor,
                  has the added military help, ie planes. helped much? Just curious and I do realize if you can only disclose so much. Stay safe, and good luck to you and all the other LEOs there.

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                  • #10
                    The Task Force keeps a lot of the evidence and specifics pretty close. I have no idea what value the military has been or even various witnesses. I think it was bone-headed however to reveal that we were getting military assistance and other details of the investigation...
                    I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones

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                    • #11
                      I understand the reluctance to answer my question directly, so I'll rephrase and address it specifically to Valor55;

                      Do you personally think the road blocks can be effective in this situation?
                      "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Valor, great post, and stay safe.

                        Comment

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