The police chief who called the shots after two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon brought the memories—and the lessons—of that day to a roomful of New Haven cops.
Outgoing Boston Police Chief Dan Linskey gave the talk to New Haven’s police command staff at the beginning of Thursday morning’s weekly CompStat data-sharing meeting on the fourth floor of 1 Union Ave.
He held the room spellbound as he recalled the events of April 15, 2013, when two bombs exploded by the finish line of the annual marathon. The bombing killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Linskey’s message to New Haven’s cops: It can happen here. Be ready.
He spoke of having watched the December 2012 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown and thinking, “Thank God we’re not in the middle of that.”
Then came the attack in his hometown.
Linskey spoke of how the key response person at the outset was not a chief or captain, but the sergeant on scene, who kept streets clear in order for ambulances and emergency workers to get through and save lives.
“As police officers, we think the chief or the superintendent ... will always be there” running the show, Linskey told the assembled New Haven sergeants and lieutenants. “That is not always the case. ... You’re going to be it.”
“There is no place they can train you to be the instant commander,” he said. “But your life experience, your leadership skills that you learn ... can all kick in.”
It took a moment for it to kick in when he arrived at the scene, Linskey confessed.
“I wanted to put pressure on a little boy who was missing his arm and had horrific injuries. I did bend down to help him. And one of my cops grabbed me by the collar and told me to get in the middle of the street and be the boss. And I was mad. Cause I wasn’t comfortable being the boss. I was comfortable doing first aid.”
Then Linskey went to help a woman who was bleeding. Again, a cop pulled Linskey by the collar, this time a state police lieutenant.
“Get your hands off me!” Linskey yelled.”
“I’m trying to help you!” the lieutenant responded.
“I knew exactly what he was trying to do. But I wasn’t ready to the boss yet. But I had to snap into that mode. And I did.”.
Then Linskey told of receiving a call from a Congressman who was at the scene with a man whose leg was blown up. His wife was in the hospital injured too. The man was determined to rush to the scene, past police lines, to find his little boy—who had been killed in the blast. Click on the video at the top of the story to watch Linskey describe what happened next.
Linskey left the New Haven officers with this parting advice: “You need to start thinking and preparing ... for the evil that’s in the streets of Boston and I’m sure in the streets of New Haven.”
He received a standing ovation.