Navy Yard police union: Staff cuts likely increased death toll

5:41 PM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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Video: RAW Video: Navy Yard Police Union says they were understaffed

This handout photo provided by the FBI shows Aaron Alexis. (Photo: Handout via AP)


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) - The union for the Navy Yard's police department believes additional victims died because the agency was understaffed during Monday's attack.

See unedited interview segment attached.

"The minimum of people that are supposed to be at work on Monday, supposed to be eleven minimum," said chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Naval District Labor Committee Anthony Meely . "There was only seven, to include the chief of police."

Meely says over the past three years, the Navy Yard Police Department has removed four officers from the day shift and police cruisers.

"People died because of management rights," Meely said. "The amount of lives lost was lost because of the limited thinking of individuals."

Naval District Washington (NDW) Police referred WUSA9 to Navy public affairs which did not respond to staffing questions.

"At this time the NDW focus remains on healing as a Navy family and transitioning to normal operations at the Washington Navy Yard," a Navy official said asking that we not attribute the quote to an individual. "The Secretary of the Navy has ordered a review of physical security and we will support it fully. Our biggest concern is our Navy Family."

Meely, who is a sergeant on the Navy Yard police force, says only one officer, the department's chief, could immediately respond because all other officers were required to stay at posted at base gates until they were closed.

Once additional officers were able to respond, they had to run on foot because they were not assigned police cars, Meely said.

Meely said the Navy Yard police are trained to respond to situations like this and feels a security guard who was killed shortly after the chief responded, and others could have survived if the force was at full staff.

He described the security guard's last moments as reported to him by other officers.

"As they went through somewhere in (Navy Yard building) 197, the individual came down," Meely said "The chief seen the guard at the door didn't have his weapon out."

"The chief saying at this time, hey where's your weapon," Meely said. " As he went to pull out his weapon, that's when he got shot."

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