Justice Dept. to review police response to Orlando nightclub massacre

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 15, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department said Friday that it will review the Orlando Police Department's response to the attack last month at a gay nightclub.

The city police department faced questions after the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub, in which a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people, about whether it had waited too long after the rampage began to send in a SWAT team.

The Justice Department will examine the police department's preparedness and response, as well as strategies and tactics it used during the massacre.

The review will be led by the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services office, which offers technical assistance to departments who have experienced high-profile events and emergencies.

Among past reports from the office was one last year that examined the police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man. That report called on police to strengthen policies for handling protests and to improve training on diversity, among other recommendations.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina requested the federal review, said Ronald Davis, director of the COPS office. The lessons learned from the review will benefit not only Orlando police but "provide all law enforcement critical guidance and recommendations for responding to future such incidents," Davis said in a statement.

Mina has previously defended his department's response to the rampage, which ended with the gunman, Omar Mateen, being killed by a police SWAT team about three hours after he entered the club.

The chief has said that an early exchange of gunfire between police and Mateen prompted the attacker to retreat into a bathroom and take hostages, shifting the incident from a shooting to a hostage-taking.

Separately Friday, Mina and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told a congressional committee that the central Florida region should receive more federal money for preventing and responding to terrorist threats.