There are many things that will be looked over in the wake of the capture of surviving Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the death of his elder brother and co-conspirator Tamerlan Tsarnaev. One aspect in particular that will be closely examined in the weeks and month to come is the way in which the Boston Police Department handled the case.
The Boston Police managed to capture Tsarnaev after an enormous manhunt that saw the city of Boston essentially shut down for a day. Amazingly, no additional civilians were injured during the massive search for Tsarnaev. He was brought in alive after he and his brother allegedly killed a MIT campus officer, Sean Collier, and wounding a transit police officer, Richard H. Donohue. This is incredibly successful in comparison in how other massive police manhunts, such as the manhunt for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner, were handled.
One aspect in which the Boston Police performed exceptionally was keeping the public informed through social media. The Boston Police Twitter feed was constantly updated over the course of investigation and ensuing manhunt with not only police information but also thanks for local citizens' involvement and information on decisions by other civic agencies during the one-day manhunt:
This was in stark contrast of the LAPD's treatment of the Dorner manhunt, with less then a dozen unhelp tweets regarding the case being sent out over the course of the nine-day manhunt.
Another remarkable aspect was the restraint utilized during the manhunt. The Boston police searched dozens of homes, backyards, and businesses over the course of the manhunt. During the epic search, there were no other civilians hurt or killed during police business or gun battles that the suspects engaged in with police.
The LAPD, on the other hand, seemed to be trigger-happy at times when engaged in the manhunt. The police fired on several innocent people during the course of their search. Those victims included David Purdue, a thin white man who looks nothing like Christopher Dorner, who was black and heavier. The LAPD claimed they mistook his truck for one that Dorner was reported to be driving. Another incident during the manhunt saw the LAPD shot over 100 times at truck of two women, Maggie Carranza, 47 and Emma Hernandez, 71. Hernandez was shot in the back twice and needed to go the ICU. Police again claimed they mistook their truck for the one that Dorner was driving. But the attorney for both of the woman claimed that "The vehicle is a different color. The license plate doesn’t match. There’s nothing there for you to start shooting people.” This series of incidents lead to grim sort of humor among Los Angeles residents:
via The Atlantic
Another major difference is in way that the two departments reacted when they had located the suspect and closed in for a possible arrest. In the case of the Boston Police, they had the heavily armed Tsarnaev, who was hiding in a boat just outside the search area, surrounded before engaging in a firefight with him. After the firefight they waited him out until other agencies could enter the scene and eventually apprehend Tsarnaev alive.
When Christopher Dorner was tracked to a cabin in a Californian mountain resort area called Big Bear Lake by the LAPD, they set up a tight three-mile perimeter and completely surrounded the cabin, leaving Dorner little to no chance of escaping. The police knocked down the walls of the cabin with a remote controlled tractor and fired seven pyrotechnic "burner" tear gas canisters into the cabin after earlier "cold" tear gas canisters failed to get Dorner out of the cabin. The "burner" canisters are known for their tendency to start fires. The cabin was set on fire from the canisters minutes later and burned down to the foundations. Dorner's body was later found in the cabin, apparently having committed suicide. The LAPD was criticized for their actions during the standoff, especially the use of the "burner tear gas."
Manhunts are horrible times for police officers, who often have work insane hours under incredible stress. But even though they go through these situations, it does not mean we should let their mistakes slide due to these factors. The difference between the Boston Police and the LAPD in these two massive manhunts demonstrates the difference between an exemplary police operation and one in which major issues came up again and again.