You don't get good public vibes for the police these days so it's refreshing when there is clear evidence of them doing a fantastic coordinated job that everyone agrees on. Today's shooting at the Wilkes-Barre Township Wal-Mart which I happened to capture via digital recording, and which I subsequently posted to Sound Cloud, has social media comments abuzz with what appears to be exceptional praise for law enforcement response.
The dramatic audio snippet leaves one wondering little why. In it police are heard approaching the scene while there's still some question about what is going on exactly. It actually includes combined traffic of response by both the Wilkes-Barre City Police and Wilkes-Barre Township Police (to non-area folks, yeah, this kind of regional juxtapositioning is how we roll) as they combine resources to enter the Wal-Mart shopping center's parking lots, spot the clearly armed suspect just as initially reported to them, and then confront him.
At which point all hell breaks loose.
The suspect reportedly turned what is described as a "rifle" or "long gun" on the first responders (though radio traffic speculates it is an AK-47) and although it is unclear if he actually squeezed off any shots at them, it's certain police did at him. In the recording you can hear at least three rapid fire shots as an officer radios back what's happening - it's hair raising. A few frantic transmissions later the listener hears that the suspect is "down".
Dramatic recording routs praise and pride for local police and dispatchers. Click image to see why.
The event had every possible buzz word of the day piled into it, all in the right order: "Active shooter", "Wal-Mart", "lock-down", "Chuck E. Cheese". It's no wonder the clip picked up over 10,000 plays in just hours. After years of blogging and generating various mediocre online content artifacts here and there, something that took just minutes to produce and post may well wind up being my most signficant contribution to the open media movement - at least at a local level.
What I am most impressed by, however, is the unified praise and justified gushing for police the recording inspired. It is digestable proof that in fact Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County do still have their professional scruples in a row. Maybe now we can finally acknowledge that there is no such thing as "easy policing" even if we, maybe I, sometimes suspect some police officers are guilty of trying to make for themselves. And the same goes for the county 911 dispatchers who deployed the real-time communication strategy necessary to deal with this situation with expert calm and reserve. All of this is highlighted in the recording which will long serve as an example of how strong and effective our pokey part of Pennsyvlania really is at keeping the community safe.
When we talk about bringing a rail line into the center of Wilkes-Barre, people will need to believe, to know, they are being supported by a modern and intelligent police system, in order to take advantage of it. This monument of social media capture is a singlehanded step toward creating that peace of mind.