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 Breivik Massacre - Police Response

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PostSubject: Breivik Massacre - Police Response   Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:15 am

I put together a summary of Norwegian law enforcement’s bungled job during Anders Breivik's massacre, according to the Asne Seierstad book, One of Us. After reading, you might understand why Breivik was able to kill so many people before he was stopped. The errors in judgment, communication and action began almost immediately after the initial bomb blast and continued nearly all the way through the attack, until Anders was apprehended over 3 hours later.

On July 22, 2011 Anders Breivik drove to the government district in downtown Oslo and parked a van containing a massive bomb directly outside the building which housed the Prime Minister’s office. He lit the fuse and walked away. At 3:25 PM, the bomb exploded, killing eight people.

A man named Andreas Olsen had observed Breivik in his fake police uniform as he was leaving the scene a few minutes before the explosion and thought him to be so odd that he watched him enter a vehicle and noted the registration tag. At 3:34 PM, nine minutes after the explosion, he made a call to the police hotline to offer a description of Breivik that included the model and registration of the van he was driving. The operator who took the call realized that this was an important lead and wrote the information on a post-it note. She placed it directly on the desk of the chief of operations, believing that her supervisor had seen her do this. She was wrong. Nobody noticed the note.

During this time, Anders Breivik was stopped in traffic waiting to enter a tunnel in order to leave Oslo and initiate the second phase of his plan. The chief of operations, who was expected to lead the law enforcement action, was going through a list of officers and calling them in for duty one by one. All manpower in Oslo, including the elite emergency response Delta unit, was deployed directly to the government quarter to assist with rescue efforts and no roadblock was set up. Breivik made it out of Oslo with no problem.

Reports continued to come in from people who had seen Anders, and from security officers in various ministry buildings who had reviewed security tapes from before the explosion. They provided additional descriptions of Breivik but still, no alerts were sent out to the public or to the police force. At 3:55 PM, someone finally noticed the post-it note and followed up with Andreas Olsen. At 4:02 PM, the operator notified the on-scene commander of the important information, nearly 30 minutes after the explosion and 20 minutes after the first tip came in.

By 4:03 PM, Breivik was already passing the Sandvika police station about 13km to the west of Oslo and although they had officers ready to act, they had not received any vehicle alert or even a request for assistance from Oslo so they did nothing but wait for information and Breivik passed without incident.

At 4:05 PM the operator who had spoken to Olsen called the emergency response unit and informed them of the model and registration of the van as well as a description of Breivik. The patrol said the description was too vague to take any action, so they did nothing.

At 4:09 PM, the chief of operations in Asker and Bærum (the neighboring district where Anders was currently driving) was given the descriptions of the van and perpetrator. The district had three police cars. She called the closest patrol and ordered them to cancel their routine transport of a prisoner to Oslo and commanded them to go on observation along E18, the highway that Breivik was currently on. She then alerted the other two patrols and also ordered them to look for vehicles matching the description. Instead, the first patrol had disobeyed their orders and continued with their prisoner transport “to get the job out of the way” so they were now in Oslo. One of the other patrols had also been ordered to abandon their low-priority assignment but they also disobeyed the order. Two police patrols could have positioned themselves on the E18, which would have allowed them to intercept Breivik. No one was there when he passed.

Throughout this time, many potential targets in Oslo remained unsecured. Requests for police guards were repeatedly turned down and other districts offered support but many of these offers were declined by Oslo police.

Norway has only one police helicopter and in July the service was on vacation. Because of a tight budget, there was no emergency crew to cover for them. The pilot reported for duty anyway upon hearing news of the explosion in Oslo but he was told that he was not needed. The emergency response unit requested use of the helicopter twice in the next hour and they were told that it was unavailable even though it was fully operational and ready to fly. The police did not make any requests for use of military helicopters or helicopters from civilian companies either.

Norway makes use of nationwide alerts to communicate important information to all police districts in the country. Around 4:00 PM the duty manager at Kripos (the National Criminal Investigation Service in Norway) had contacted the Oslo chief of operations and discussed the possibility of sending out an alert. The conversation went like this.

Oslo: Well, er, you could, that is, it might be interesting to maybe issue a warning, send out a national warning.
Kripos: Yes. What do you want it to say?
Oslo: No, that is, well it's interesting now because a van was spotted here, uh-huh. A small grey delivery van. VH 24605. So if you could send out, that is, a national warning that there's been an attack here, and then that the police districts are bearing it in mind.
Kripos: The van?
Oslo: Yes, and any other activity, because it could be interesting on routes to border crossings. Mmm, maybe alert the customs service, which is at most of the borders at least.

It was never clarified that the van could be driven by the perpetrator observed at the scene or that he was armed and wearing a police uniform. If the alert had gone out immediately, all police stations would have followed a standard procedure. The procedure would have involved the local police in Asker and Bærum setting up a roadblock at Sollihøgda on the E16. No nationwide alert went out at this time and no roadblock was positioned. There is also the possibility of releasing information to public media and this was not done either. At 4:16 PM, 15 minutes after the information was passed on to Kripos, Breivik passed Sollihøgda unnoticed, leaving him less than 10km away from Utøya.

By 4:30 PM, Breivik was passing through the Norde Buskerud district, where Utøya is located, but the Hønefoss police station had not yet been notified of any relevant information. Breivik pulled into a clearing next to the road to wait for the ferry to Utøya, which would be running again at 5 PM.

At 4:43 PM Kripos finally issued the nationwide alert, over an hour after Oslo had the information and over 40 minutes after they initially received the information from Oslo about the major terrorist attack in their government quarter. It read as follows.

Nationwide Alert - Explosion Potential Bomb(s) in Central Oslo
All units requested to be on the alert for a small grey van, possible reg. 24605. As of now unknown relationship between explosion and vehicle, but if it is located, alert Desk or Oslo pending further instructions. Units requested to exercise relative caution in approaching the vehicle.
Sincerely, Kripos Desk.

The letter code was omitted from the registration number and no information was transmitted about Breivik’s appearance or attire. In addition to this, very few police stations even saw the alert because they did not have proper communication equipment switched on or their alarms were set incorrectly. This applied to the police station in Hønefoss where the officers would have had to manually check for an alert by going to Shared Files > Alarms > and then selecting the proper district from a list of all districts in the country in order to see the current alert. No one at this station checked for an alert.

At around 4:55 PM Breivik drove over to the jetty where the MS Thorbjørn docked between trips to Utøya. He posed as a police officer doing a security check and was told that the ferry had been canceled because of the bomb in Oslo. He convinced them to ferry him over to the island with several other people, carrying a rifle and a black plastic case on wheels that was holding a large amount of extra ammunition, under the guise of securing the island. At 5:17 PM, Breivik arrived on the island. The people here had not yet received any information about the perpetrator being dressed as a policeman. He had the captain of the boat drive his extra ammunition up to the main building for him once they arrived. By 5:22 PM, Breivik had killed both security guards and the island’s caretaker.

Hønefoss police station had minimal staff due to budgeting issues so they had just a single officer in the operations center as well as five other officers on duty. The chief of operations had phoned Oslo to offer assistance but there was no request for reinforcements so they did nothing but wait in the staff room watching news broadcasts. At 5:24 PM, the station received their first emergency call regarding Utøya (initially, the call had mistakenly been routed though to the medical emergency call center). This call came from the captain of the MS Thorbjørn, Jon Olsen. He was the partner of the island’s caretaker and she had just been murdered in front of him by Breivik. He explained that there was a man dressed as a police officer shooting people and that they should call him if they needed to use his ferry. At the same time, emergency calls from others on the island started to come in. By 5:25 PM Breivik had already killed nine people.

Around 5:26 PM, Breivik entered the building that housed the cafe and main hall where many people had taken cover upon hearing shots fired by the ferry landing. He left the hall at 5:29 PM, having killed 13 additional people and critically injuring several more in less than two minutes. At the same time, the Hønefoss chief of operations began calling in reinforcements. There was no system to notify her staff in an emergency like this so the officers called each other on their mobile phones. Four officers began to prepare equipment for the operation.

The MS Thorbjørn was a former military vessel and could have carried a large crew over to the island within minutes, less than fifteen minutes in total including travel time to the jetty which was 13km away. In the chaos, however, it was forgotten and the police force decided to use the police boat, a red rubber dinghy.

At 5:38 PM, the first patrol left Hønefoss police station. Despite the fact that Utøya was in their district and was visited each year by high level politicians, they weren’t sure where it was and had to check the location on a map. They were wearing body armor and holding pistols and sub-machine guns but the commander had ordered them to drive toward Utøya and “observe.” By this time, Breivik had murdered another 11 people on a path, 3 girls on a cliff, and several more had been injured or killed by the water’s edge.

At 5:42 PM Havard Gasbakk, a former member of the Delta emergency response team saw a message on his answering machine calling him to work at the Hønefoss station. He raced in, put on his armor, grabbed his weapons and got in his police car. The battery was dead.

At the same time, the Delta team, an elite task force of 26 men, was finally leaving the capital for Utøya, 38km away. They were driving heavy vehicles on wet roads, through heavy traffic.

At 5:47 PM, the joint operational center in Oslo sent out a message to all units saying that the suspect of the bombing and the shooting on Utøya had been observed to be wearing a police or security guard uniform. It was more than two hours since they first received this information.

At 5:52 PM, the first local police officers arrived at the jetty. They were hearing a steady stream of gunshots from two separate types of weapons, though never at the same time, so they realized that it was a lone perpetrator. Although they were heavily armed, they had been ordered to exercise caution, observe and wait for the police boat. Although Utøya was only 600m away and there were multiple boats moored nearby, they made no attempt to cross over to the island.

At this time, the local police were fetching their police boat, the red dinghy, but it was not kept in a state of readiness and the commander had to inflate the boat and put gas in the engine. The local fire station had a large boat ready and waiting and they had called early on to offer assistance but they were turned down because the local police had their own boat. When the police changed their mind and called back later to ask for the fire boat, they could not get through, no matter how many times they called. The chief of operations was dialing the wrong number.

Neither the Delta team or the former Delta member, Gasbakk, had been informed where the rendezvous point was. Gasbakk assumed it was at the jetty right across from the island and he proceeded toward the location. The Delta team did not even know where Utøya was located and when they tried to locate it on GPS, they found that the island was too small to be named in the system. They attempted to contact local police to obtain rendezvous instructions and to alert them that extra boats would be needed for their large crew, but the emergency network did not extend to the area and analog police radio only covered the area halfway to Nordre Buskerud. Their only option was the telephone and because the local emergency switchboard was inundated with calls, the Delta team’s call went unanswered.

Until 6:00 PM, the local police had assumed that the Delta team was arriving by helicopter and was going to fly directly to the island. When they finally made contact and clarified that no helicopter was coming, yet another misunderstanding occurred. Nordre Buskerud informed them that they should meet on the jetty and the Delta member on the phone asked if this was the jetty by the golf course, which was the only jetty he was familiar with. The operator then turned and informed the chief of staff, who had just arrived, that Delta said the rendezvous point was at the golf course. The chief of staff nodded and the operator then replied to the Delta team, “Okay, let’s say the golf course.” The golf course was 3.6km away from the island, while the original spot that the patrol was observing, and where Gasbakk was headed, was only 600m away.

The response unit convoy arrived at the track near the MS Thorbjørn’s jetty at 6:01 PM and drove down to the water, where there were several boats moored. If they had taken one of the boats, they could have been on the island within a few minutes but at this time, the driver received a radio message instructing him to turn around, which he and the rest of the response unit proceeded to do, turning back onto the main road. Gasbakk, who had almost arrived at the jetty, was also instructed to turn around and drive to the golf course.

While this went on, Breivik was killing an average of one person every minute and had killed 40 people on the island, in total. Breivik decided it was time to give himself up, hoping to increase his chances of survival, and he rang the emergency line. He was put on hold. After several calls, he finally got through to Hønefoss at 6:01 PM. Breivik identified himself and said he wanted to give himself up. He was asked what number he was at but this was a mobile phone with no SIM card that he had taken from a victim, so the number did not show up on the police screen and Breivik couldn’t provide the information either. The call then cut out and he was never called back. Breivik decided to continue on. He walked down to the water and killed 8 more people before turning inland again, where he shot another group of people after convincing them to come out of hiding by posing as a police officer doing an evacuation of the island.

While this group was being massacred, a force of 30 men, including the Delta team and local police, finally arrived at the golf course rendezvous point and the police boat arrived in the water below. The heavily armed men wasted no time going aboard the little dinghy. The boat was registered to carry ten people and the officers were each wearing about 30kg of equipment. When ten men had boarded, the driver pulled out from the rock it had been resting on and the boat sunk so low that it was barely above water. The boat was slow, even at top speed, and after a few hundred meters, the engine gave out completely. The officers stood there in the dinghy, with water up to their knees, hoping that they wouldn’t sink in their heavy armor, until a civilian boater came to their rescue. The men transferred over to the larger boat and again headed toward the island but it was slow progress because this boat was also overloaded. Eventually, a second boat approached and four men jumped over to it. They finally picked up speed and headed to the island after another series of wasteful delays.

By 6:26 PM, Breivik had been on the island for over an hour. He spotted a helicopter, which he assumed to belong to the Delta team (but was actually a news helicopter). He decided once again that if he wanted to survive, it was time to surrender and rang the police another time. He pilfered another mobile phone and got through quickly this time, but the call was routed to a distant district because of the phone’s service provider. He identified himself as the Commander of the Norwegian resistance movement and explained that he was ready to give himself up to the Delta team. The operator informed him that he was not speaking to the Delta commander and Breivik told the operator to find the information he needed and to call him back, before hanging up. Again, there was no way to return the call and Breivik decided to carry on until he was captured.

The first boat, carrying four men, reached the island at 6:27 PM. Some survivors pointed them north, the last place where Breivik had shot anyone. The team headed in this direction but by then, Breivik had returned back toward the landing stage and was now heading for the southern tip of the island. He came upon another group and again pretended to be a police officer ready to help, walking right up to his victims before opening fire. The news helicopter filmed everything.

At this time, the second boat, containing Gasbakk and five Delta members arrived. They had heard the shots so they knew which direction they needed to go. They struggled through shrubs toward the water line but found that the undergrowth was so thick that they had to turn back toward an inland path before returning back down to the water further south. As they ran down the gravel path in formation, expecting that they would soon come under fire, five more people were shot multiple times at the southern tip of the island. Breivik now headed back to the main building to once again replenish his ammunition.

Just after 6:30 PM, the team came to the end of the path and began looking for Breivik, who hadn’t shot his gun recently enough to alert them to his location. Finally, they spotted him and called out, “Armed police! Stand still! Hands up!” After committing 69 murders in a little more than an hour, Breivik leaned his rifle against a tree, Gasbakk cuffed him, and the massacre was over.
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