FDLE report on Pulse makes dozens of recommendations

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 25, 2017, 6:28 PM EDT

When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub last year, agents took on a task they don't normally do.

  • FDLE released 35-page report on Pulse response
  • Dozens of recommendations made
  • Agency overall pleased with its response
  • PULSE ORLANDO: Complete Coverage

Danny Banks said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was more than willing to take on the unenviable task of telling 49 families their loved ones were shot and killed at Pulse Nightclub.

“It’s not and that’s a role that I don’t think anyone in our nation has ever had to do in an active shooter incident certainly as big as we had here in Orlando. It was a role that I volunteered us for," said FDLE Special Agent In Charge Danny Banks.

“We were able to successfully not only identify those victims but also make that next of kin notification within one day," Banks continued.

The agency released its 35-page report on its response to the June 2016 attack, looking at ways to improve how it handles these sorts of events and how it works with local and federal agencies.

While FDLE was willing to take on the role, they were perhaps not ready for the chaos they encountered when they arrived at the hotel where families were of victims and survivors waited for information.

The report recommends creating a workgroup to develop procedures to expedite the process, and create a contact list for victim advocates and police chaplains in each area of the state.

On page 16 of the FDLE After Action Report, agents admitted "communication at the operational level with the FBI was challenging due to their interagency policies regarding security and information sharing."

The recommendation: "Assign a FDLE Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) special agent to the FBI EOC to liaise with FDLE members."

Banks says that recommendation is now standard procedure.

The report also recommended that a process be established for deconflicting leads, because FDLE and FBI tracking led to duplication and inefficiency.

Other recommendations:

  • Include lightweight, quick-dry clothing for FDLE-approved attire
  • Create go-bags so teams have items like portable printers, cell phone charges and other supplies ready to go
  • Improve communication among the FDLE team with a mass notification system and refresher training on radios
  • Create management support teams in each region to handle logistics and planning
  • Purchase a mobile incident command vehicle for the agency
  • Stopping team members from using personal social media accounts during open investigations
  • Have EMTs on standby when families are notified about their loved ones

Overall, FDLE is proud of their response and is already working to implement the dozens of recommendations made after Pulse.

"We’ve taken that step, even if some of those recommendations were critical of our actions, shame on us if we don’t take the time to look at them and make ourselves better for the next time," Banks said.

Something not detailed in the report: Banks said FDLE was also working with the FBI to evaluate intelligence leads to see if another terrorist incident was going to happen in Orlando in the immediate days following June 12, 2016.

“Never should any of us be here saying, that’s not my job. It’s someone else’s. We all have a common job of public safety," Banks shared.

After Pulse, agents said domestic security and counterterrorism are two of FDLE’s top priorities statewide, especially in Orlando.