From the Sun-Sentinel:
In the year since a gunman killed five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport, local government and law enforcement officials have made efforts to address vulnerabilities exposed by the Jan. 6 shooting and the chaos that ensued.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said it has outfitted deputies with earpieces or shoulder radios to prevent the spread of misinformation during a future threat. It also told officers where to park and meet when arriving at the airport to avoid the gridlock caused by abandoned police vehicles that blocked evacuation routes.
Airport officials have stockpiled 5,000 bottles of water and snacks, a spokesman said, to help prevent stranded passengers from becoming dehydrated and hungry, as many were after the shooting. The airport has upgraded its emergency operations center. Some deputies patrolling the airport are now carrying rifles.
The changes come after a South Florida Sun Sentinel investigation, and subsequent internal evaluations of how local officials responded, which showed that communication and training breakdowns fueled the tumult that erupted long after the lone gunman was subdued. Although accused shooter Esteban Santiago was arrested within 90 seconds, a flurry of false reports of gunshots 90 minutes later — many of them coming from law enforcement officers, within earshot of passengers — sparked an uncontrolled, mass evacuation from all four airport terminals.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Broward County Mayor Beam Furr. “There was a long list of recommendations and we’re working our way down that list. We’ve not got to the end of it by any means.”
The Broward County Aviation Department, which runs the airport, has taken steps to avoid passenger and employee confusion that exacerbated the response, adding access to an internet-based emergency alert system, planning an active shooter drill this spring and training all airport employees in basic first aid and evacuation plans.
But many issues identified in the aftermath of the deadliest airport shooting in U.S. history did not lead to action.