Reporting Derek Valcourt
WASHINGTON (WJZ) — As authorities learn more about Aaron Alexis, new questions are being raised about security at the Navy Yard he targeted.
Derek Valcourt has more on the steps being taken to evaluate that security.
What happened at the Navy Yard has local and federal authorities taking a closer look at security there and at military bases around the world.
When Aaron Alexis opened fire inside the Navy Yard’s building 197, emergency dispatchers quickly called for help.
“We got a report on the fourth floor. A male with a shotgun. Multiple shots fired, multiple people down,” dispatchers said.
Inside the building, security had been contracted out to a private company. Outside, the closest sworn police officers were the Navy District Washington Police, or NDW police—charged with manning the entrance gates and patrolling the Navy Yard.
“More lives possibly could have been saved if we had the appropriate amount of manpower,” said Anthony Meely, Chairman, Fraternal Order of Police Navy District Washington Labor Committee.
Meely is with the Fraternal Order of Police union that represents the Navy District Washington Police. He says budget cuts from the sequester and from the base realignment have come at a price.
Meely: “There was not enough staffing.”
Valcourt: “How many people were there?”
Meely: “There was only seven on staff, sir.”
Valcourt: “How many should there be?”
Meely: “There should be, at minimum, 11. At appropriate levels, beyond minimum is 15.”
He says with more NDW police on duty, officers could have responded even faster.
A full review of security is now a top priority, not just at the Navy Yard, but also at all U.S. Department of Defense installations around the world–with Secretary Chuck Hagel ordering thorough inspections of physical security and access procedures.
“Where there are gaps, we will close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them. And where there are failures, we will correct them. We owe the victims, their families and all our people nothing less,” Hagel said.
Critics are questioning how Aaron Alexis could be allowed security clearance given his prior run-ins with police.
Wednesday, lawmakers were told Aaron Alexis visited two VA hospitals in late August complaining of insomnia, but that he denied struggling with anxiety or depression or had thoughts of harming himself or others.