San Bernardino Attack: The Police View 1 Year Later
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
One year ago today, Jarrod Burguan received a message. He's the police chief in San Bernardino, Calif. And the message told him of what police call an active shooter situation, a phrase with which civilians had become all too familiar in recent years. Two suspects killed 14 people and wounded 22. The attack in San Bernardino soon became part of the presidential campaign. One year later, Chief Burguan recalled how he rushed to the scene of the shooting.
JARROD BURGUAN: So when I show up, there was a sergeant that had set up a temporary command post on the trunk of a police car. While that was going on, we had a lot of people inside. And so all we were hearing was some radio chatter, but they were obviously very, very busy dealing with the issues inside of the building at that time.
There was a moment, maybe 20 to 30 minutes into the incident, where a detective was walking up towards the command post where I was standing, and he had a lot of blood on him. And I grabbed the detective and I said, hey, what do we have in there? And he goes, well, it's pretty bad, chief. And he said that there were several victims, and I said, are we talking two or are we talking five or are we talking 20? What are we talking? And he goes, oh, there's more than 20. And I would say that was a moment where it hit you that this was really big.
INSKEEP: How would you critique the rest of the country in how we absorbed this news? By which I mean the news media were there. Everybody was reporting things. Some of them were false. The presidential candidates weighed in. There was a lot of discussion about this incident.
BURGUAN: You know, we all know from experience that we have almost an insatiable appetite for breaking news. And what really stood out to me in this particular case is that there are people in which this story is incredibly personal, and they are impacted by those words unlike the rest of us. And it really has taught me that there has to be an enormous amount of sensitivity in how these things are talked about. And we've had times when statements have been made in the media, whether they've been made by presidential candidates or by reporters or by witnesses, that have said certain things that has really been hurtful to some of those victims.
INSKEEP: Can you think of some - can you think of something in particular that was excruciating for someone and maybe the rest of us didn't even realize?
BURGUAN: You know, they've asked officers about their experience that day. And sometimes officers have told those stories, and they may have expressed something about seeing that somebody died in front of them. And to them they're telling a story and they're telling their story, but on the backside of that is a loved one to that victim. And so it's almost excruciating for them to then hear this story about their loved one and how they died and what their last moments were. And that's a tough thing to balance because there is importance sometimes in hearing that information, but trying to convey that in a way that's sensitive to those other folks is very difficult.
INSKEEP: What was it like when Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, immediately after this shooting called for at least a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States?
BURGUAN: I think these types of issues are far more complex than just making a statement like that. And I don't think it's necessarily constitutional to say that we're going to have an across-the-board ban of a religious nature. That certainly is not American. And I don't think an across-the-board ban necessarily makes a lot of sense.
INSKEEP: Chief Burguan, thanks very much.
BURGUAN: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Jarrod Burguan is the police chief in San Bernardino, Calif.
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