In an earlier post, I wondered about the claim of the police that they had not viewed the Youtube videos posted by the UCSB shooter. The reports had not made clear whether the UCSB shooter’s parents had failed to notify the police of the videos or the police had simply incompetently failed to look at them. Well now we know and the story may be worse than I suspected. It turns out that the police had been told about the videos – and somehow did not look at them. That represents malpractice in my book. But it gets worse. Initially, the…
Since my son attends UC Santa Barbara, I have been a bit more focused on this shooting than I would have otherwise been. The tragedy has once again followed a familiar pattern of a mentally disturbed individual gaining access to guns (and in this case knives as well) and then using those guns to kill innocent victims.
I am not sure what public policy changes should be adopted to address these issues. But we certainly need hard thinking about these matters.
Here let me mention two issues. First, this case seems especially senseless and tragic, because it seems like it could have been prevented. The killer – I will not use his name – had posted videos on line that suggested he was dangerous and his parents had found out about them. They notified the authorities and police were sent to interview the killer. The police were fooled by the killer and concluded that there was no present threat.
This would simply be a regrettable mistake except for the fact that the police had not viewed the videos when they concluded that the killer was not dangerous. Had they viewed them, it seems likely that this tragedy could have been avoided. Why did they miss the videos?
The reports I have read are not clear about this – am I being too cynical by thinking this is no accident? There are at least two possibilities. The first is that the parents who contacted the authorities did not notify them of the videos. I rate this as relatively unlikely as it is the videos that set them to notify the authorities in the first place. The second possibility is that the police or other bureaucrats involved did not communicate all of the information to the relevant decisionmakers. If that is what happened, then bureaucratic incompetence is the culprit here. (If anyone knows more information about what happened, please leave a comment.)