The swift and decisive response of police officers to a school shooting in Nashville has generated a wave of appreciation and among police departments across the United States, and inspired hope within the law enforcement community.
The body-worn camera footage of the tragic incident showed Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo rushing into the Covenant School and gunning down the shooter who had just killed six people, including three 9-year-olds, and who was firing from an upper story window.
The dramatic footage has been widely circulated on social media and police blogs, with officers from across the country hailing the two and their colleagues at the scene as heroes.
Former DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone told CNN that “these officers demonstrated what the American police officer is capable of when given the right equipment, the right training and the appropriate mindset.”
Law enforcement experts also hope that the heroic police response could improve morale within the police profession and trigger an upswing in recruitment numbers.
“There’s a little bit more of a sense of pride today because of what they saw in our profession being demonstrated in Nashville,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum declared.
Experts in the field also credited the decisive actions of Engelbert and Collazo as a “textbook” lesson for police departments across the country as they train to respond to future mass shootings.
Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis was likewise hopeful that the brave actions seen in the footage could lead to a significant improvement on the outlook of the law enforcement industry during a time of low recruitment and staffing shortages.
“This type of professional response is something that needs to be seen,” Davis said.
Brenda Goss Andrews, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement and a retired Detroit Police Department deputy police chief, said the public needs to be reminded about the inherent dangers of police work. “When we rush in, we’re thinking about saving lives and whatever it is that we need to do to make sure citizens aren’t harmed.”
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said the Nashville bodycam footage highlights “the importance of training and teamwork.”
“Officers knew what they had to do and did it, even though some appeared not to have full body armor,” he said. “It didn’t matter: Lives were at stake.”
The incident has also earned praise for Metro Nashville’s police chief, John Drake, for his leadership in the shooting’s aftermath, including releasing the police body-cam footage within 24 hours.
“This is one of these things that we really need to be transparent about to regain the trust of the American people. This goes a long way toward that happening,” Drake said.
Drake also commented on the differing response between his department and the actions of police in Uvalde, Texas, which were widely criticized following that tragic mass shooting. “We will never wait to make entry and to go in and to stop a threat, especially when it deals with our children,” he said.
Atlanta Chief Darin Schierbaum heaped praise on the Nashville chief: “Drake is an incredible police leader that knows that for us to do our job, we had to be effective crime fighters while still building trust with the community.”
Many U.S. police agencies plan to analyze the after-action reports from the Nashville shooting, reviewing the videos and studying the reactions of Engelbert and Collazo in the hopes of preventing future deaths due to gun violence.
The Nashville mass shooting response could also serve as an example as police departments across the United States work to regain public trust and recruit new officers.
“We really have to promote the fact that we make a difference, that you can change lives every day,” retired Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said.