Boston PD’s Daniel Coleman of BRIC at #IACP on Fusion Center’s Role after the Marathon Bombing

Sergeant Detective Dan Coleman, assigned for the past four years to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, spoke at the panel “Fusion Centers: Supporting All-Crimes and All-Hazards Missions” on Monday at IACP (David Carabin, the Director of BRIC, was slated to speak in the published schedule, no explanation was given for the change). Coleman spoke after the police chiefs were addressed by Major Christian Schulz of the ROIC fusion center in New Jersey about the Trenton fusion center’s role in facilitating first-responder operations during Hurricane Sandy. It appeared possible from Schulz’s fairly vague talk that his facility may have provided value during the storm, however they themselves seemed to still be working out exactly what that was.

Det. Coleman provided a fairly detailed narrative (though exclusive, he said, of SWAT or tactical information, as he was not SWAT and that operations continued, so it would be an inappropriate discussion)  of the scope of the Boston Marathon as a Boston Police Department law enforcement mission. He described the multi-jurisdictional layout of the course, specific preparations, instructions for officers, gave a very graphic description of the scene, and at least a very earnest *sounding account of their reflections on the tragedy (an earnest but certainly self-congratulatory post-mortem).

Despite the often colorful detail in his talk, when it came to the actual fusion center, the only explicit mention is in his description of first hearing the news at the facility of an explosion, then another (both he and Ed Davis would say in their talks at the conference that they thought it was a man-hole cover blowing as electrical problems were common in the area – Davis then said, incidentally, that “because everybody knows al-Qaeda attacks in threes, he was waiting on another explosion”), and of the immediate aftermath of the attacks, 6-12 hours, where the facility and staff “did not do much fusing,” he said it was essentially just a room they worked out of – they lost all communications, their cell phones city-wide, and then their city-issue satellite phones would not function inside the facility, and they operated on police radios alone.

He additionally addressed at length the problematic nature of a “24 second news cycle” vis-a-vis social media, a trigger-happy press, especially CNN.

He made an exception of CBS Boston’s John Miller, who “received no special information” but took instructions well.

Coleman also said several times during his talk, and then again in conclusion when addressing how their experience with the bombing effected the Boston PD’s preparation for the World Series: “You never go back to normal again.”

Photograph by Edward Keating, Mens Journal
Photograph by Edward Keating, Mens Journal

Coleman’s talk is in four parts below, I recommend leaving the audio on and going to another tab, my fingers get in front of the camera occasionally.

“…except for John Miller, who received no special information, but would allow us to set him on the right track.”


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