Raymond Rotary Club News

Leadership Honed in the Crucible of Terror
By Penny Williams - 3-2-15

Dan Linskey was the Superintendent-in-Chief, the highest sworn member of the Boston Police Department, and the Incident Commander during the Boston Marathon bombing. At a leadership conference sponsored by Raymond Area Rotary Club in Raymond on Feb. 27, he recalled the days of terror during which he drew on his leadership training and experience to lead the city through the largest and most complicated law enforcement event the region has known.

The presentation took listeners back to the chaotic and emotionally charged events of the Marathon bombing and the subsequent hunt and eventual capture of the alleged terrorists perpetrating the events. The audience was gripped by emotion as Linskey spoke passionately about wanting to help Martin Richards, the youngster killed in the bombing, as well as about other graphic moments.

The tone for Linskey's presentation was set when Master of Ceremonies Craig Wheeler, the Raymond Town Manager, had two police officers light a memorial candle and hold a moment of silence in memory of local law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty -  Steve Arkell from Brentwood and Chief Mike Maloney from Greenland. Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer killed during the Boston Marathon events, was included as well.

Linskey told the audience that in his position he had access to the highest federal channels and top clearance. He said he brought Urban Shield to Boston to ensure that his department and surrounding departments had a plan in place that provided them with the training and tools to deal with a crisis. He credited this training and educational exercise with contributing materially to the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, where 33 injured persons were transported in police vehicles and three more in a police pick-up and taken to the medical tent or a trauma unit. He said they learned that there are times when you can't wait for an ambulance and a victim must be put into the nearest police vehicle and transported.

He said his officers didn't know how to use a tourniquet nor had one available before Urban Shield, but their training paid off. Having experience working cooperatively with other police departments, with fire and rescue and hospitals, doctors and nurses also paid off, he said.



Linskey spoke of the emotions he had to deal with personally while taking command of the situation. His children were supposed to have been in the front row bleachers at the finish line but he had let them stay home and sleep, something he had not told his wife. He noted the realization that despite all the planning, he had gotten it wrong - he thought if an attack of any sort was made, it would be at the finish line, under the light of cameras, but the actual bombing happened much later, when the cameras were basically off.

Two bomb sweeps had been conducted before the race and another during the race, he said.

Linskey said it took several moments to process what was happening but he began to lead by instinct. He ordered all video tapes to be pulled, victims to be transported in police vehicles if they were nearest, roads to be opened for ambulances, and racers still on the course to be stopped, with the area treated as a crime scene.

"I knew I had to be calm and tell the rest what to do, to give them directions. I was terrified but I was the leader," he said.

He went over the multitude of false tips that did not bring them to the terrorists. He said at times of crisis much of the information offered is bad information, which the leader must sift through and determine which to follow.

As the investigation proceeded, pressure came from the need to get information out to the public, which he authorized using social media. He asked for people to send in photos and videos they had taken, and said his technical people had to sift through 29 terabytes of material. He talked of the added pressure incurred by having President and Mrs. Obama come to Boston for a special service but said he recognized the visit was critical to the city.

Linskey said he had not slept since the race and had just gone to bed when the call came in of the killing of Sean Collier at MIT. He walked the audience through his and other law enforcement officers' response to the gunmen in Watertown, Mass., and ratcheted the emotion even higher when he spoke of getting the call about the transit officer who had been shot and was bleeding out, while all ambulances were blocked.

He spoke of the need to deal with the transit officer, the dying terrorist and the evacuation of Watertown families, all of which slowed the actual search for the second terrorist and gave him a good head start. “I took charge, secured the scene and got the cops together and created a plan for the search," he said.

That quick decision eventually led to the discovery of the second terrorist, but Linskey said there were several false leads and incidents that occurred before order was established.

Leadership skills include recognizing the need for learning, for practice and for experience as well as the ability to react with speed and decisiveness,” he said. He also noted that taking time to encourage, thank and acknowledge all those who are working to alleviate a serious crisis is as important as it is during less stressful situations. He concluded that being able to draw on his experience, his training and instincts were the underpinnings of the courage it took to take charge.

Dan Linskey was the last speaker after Christine Hammill, Ken Bosse and Don DeAngelis Speak at Rotary Leadership Conference.











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