U.S. Capitol Police officers first thought it was a motorcade. After 34-year-old Miriam Carey drove her car into a White House barrier, Secret Service officers chasing her from the White House were unable to radio ahead to warn Capitol Police the vehicle was headed straight for the U.S. Capitol.
The black Infiniti was stopped at a barricade on the west side of the U.S. Capitol campus, but the cops surrounding it were from the U.S. Secret Service.
Had they been able to warn Capitol Police, there would have been a critical extra 30-45 seconds to put up perimeter barriers. But their two-way radios are not compatible.
Federal officers faced a similar obstacle responding to the Sept. 16 mass shooting at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. They could not communicate with each other.
“They couldn’t talk about what was going on,” said Andy Maybo of the Fraternal Order of Police. “They couldn’t communicate where the shooter was. Some police agencies have radios that are meant for tow trucks and cab drivers.”
The situation was supposed to have been corrected after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but was delayed by budget and other problems.
In Thursday’s incident, a perimeter barrier finally popped up on Constitution Avenue after the Infiniti passed over it. A U.S. Capitol Police cruiser struck the barrier, injuring an officer.
It’s not clear whether the extra seconds would have made a difference in the outcome in which Carey was shot and killed.
“At the White House and the Capitol, the security perimeters worked,” Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Thursday. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”