Hendrex may have not been the only cowardly cop, law enforcement sources say - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Hendrex may have not been the only cowardly cop, law enforcement sources say

LAS VEGAS — Reports of cowardice by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers during the night of the worst mass shooting in modern American history raises questions whether some LVMPD police officers should immediately start considering a career change.

I was the first media outlet to call out LVMPD Police Officer Cordell Hendrex for what he is; a coward who failed to act to save lives on October 1, 2017.

Hendrex, along with LVMPD Officer Elif Varsin and three armed Mandalay Bay security management personnel remained on the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel for several minutes listening to the gunfire one floor above them, fully aware that the Route 91 Music Festival was under attack from an active shooter.

Hendrex’s armed contingent made no attempt to confront the shooter.

As Hendrex cowered on the 31st floor, courageous LVMPD police officers were running through the gunfire to get into the Mandalay Bay Hotel to get to the active shooter.

As Hendrex retreated on the 31st floor, body worn camera footage indicated Varsin’s and his police radio was broadcasting as one officer at the concert scene yelled on the police radio, “We need to stop the shooter before we have more victims.”

In the wake of the Hendrex incident, the Baltimore Post-Examiner has learned from law enforcement sources, that Hendrex may not be the only coward cop who was on duty that night.

According to those sources an LVMPD sergeant gave his assault rifle to a patrol police officer during the time that Stephen Paddock’s gunfire was raining down on the concert venue and then allegedly left the area.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner was told that the police officer who was given the rifle by the sergeant has since received a reprimand because he was not authorized to possess the rifle.  The sergeant was also in violation of department policy for giving his rifle to the patrol officer.  Abandonment of post specifically during a life-threatening incident is a serious violation of any police department’s policy.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner was also told that the sergeant has now been transferred to another assignment and that “the department is trying to bury this on the QT.”

On Monday the Baltimore Post-Examiner sent a media request for comment to the LVMPD Public Information Office and also requested the name of the sergeant and the police officer involved.  As of Tuesday evening, the LVMPD did not respond to our request.

Police officers and security experts comment on cowardice in the line of duty

Retired LVMPD Lt. Randy Sutton, a police veteran with over 30 years of service told Las Vegas 8News Now on Wednesday, The gunfire’s going off, the suspect is still shooting, still an active threat, and he [Hendrex] stayed on the 31stfloor.  When you see an incident where an officer by his own admission freezes, it’s very disturbing. You don’t wait, you don’t analyze, you make a decision.  You look at it tactically and you act.”

Last week Sutton said on the Wayne Allyn Root radio show that police officers have to be able to go from “officer friendly” to “warrior” mode instantly.  Sutton said that that mindset saves the lives of police officers and the public as well.

Retired LVMPD Lt. Norm Jahn told the Baltimore Post-Examiner on Tuesday, “Looking toward improvement and acceptance of the realities…police departments across the country (starting with the LVMPD) should ‘build in’ to their pre-plans and response plans the calculation that all officers will NOT approach gunfire for many reasons.  It is a FACT of life that has become apparent a few times now.   We better have backup plans or redundancy to try to address this.  Mandalay was NOT Mumbai, but the mass confusion should be expected for the next one.  There are lots of ‘roles’ to be filled and not everyone is capable or willing to be the ‘hero’.

“It could have been made clear much earlier that this was a ‘sniper’ incident.  Dispatch should not be broadcasting ‘possible shooter’ or ‘active shooter’ unless a police officer is a witness to the violence…not just people who show up with wounds. Terminology matters.  A proper understanding matters because it dictates the police response,” Jahn said.

A retired LVMPD SWAT officer told the Baltimore Post-Examiner that during an active shooter incident you, “find him, kill him.”   Sometimes, You have to draw the fire towards yourself,” to protect the public he said.

James Cameron, who is the CEO of Security Concepts Group LLC, a security risk management company, and a personal security specialist and former Blackwater USA operative wrote:

I was a part of a small team that had to respond to situations where an unknown number of gunmen were shooting innocent people (2 of which were in hotels).  In my professional experience, I have witnessed those individuals that you would consider or assume were brave and courageous actually cower in the face of danger. While at the same time witnessing those individuals who you’d least expect show exceptional amounts of bravery.

With that being said, what this video depicts is an egregious lack of action by both Metro Police and the Mandalay Bay “security”.

My question is, what could this small group of armed officers and security personnel have done differently?  To begin, what they could have done was not cower in the hallway on the floor below while innocent people were being gunned down.  Next, they could have and should have moved to the threat immediately…it was their job as law enforcement officers and armed Mandalay Bay security to draw fire away from civilians.  They were all authorized to carry firearms which would indicate that they have special training and are armed for situations such as this.

Any actions the officers would have taken could have and would have disrupted Paddock’s indiscriminate firing on the crowd.  Their actions would have been beneficial and without a doubt, potentially saved lives.  In every active shooter event, police and security are at a disadvantage. Rarely are first responders properly prepared and have all the necessary training and equipment for these situations.  The national approach (even prior to Oct.1) to an active shooter event is, YOU GO to the threat. Don’t wait for SWAT, just go. Do we need to be tactically sound, of course, but there isn’t time to make a full assault plan while innocent people are being killed?  Officers and armed security have weapons for a reason.

Carrying a weapon is not a tool to stroke someone’s ego.  Instead, it’s a tool needed to neutralize a threat if one presents itself.  Clearly, in this situation, there was a threat that needed an immediate response and no action was taken by both Metro and Mandalay Bay Security.

Often one’s debate is, “Why should security be responsible to respond? They don’t get paid enough.” My response to that is, quit if you don’t want the responsibility.  Plain and simple.  This is my response to ALL individuals in the law enforcement and security industry.  If you are not willing to do your job, which may include going into harm’s way, then quit and find yourself another profession.

It’s up to leadership to call out those that do not act appropriately and remove them from service.  At a minimum, reassign them to duties not requiring any potential response. They should also not be placed in any leadership or instructor type position.  There is nothing worse than someone who has proven that they couldn’t do the job then placed in a position of authority or considered a subject matter expert.

A retired captain, a police veteran with over 35 years experience with a major Southern California law enforcement agency told the Baltimore Post-Examiner on Sunday,“From what I’ve seen over the last thirty-six years, there is another element in play.  It goes all the way back to the hiring process. When I started, most new hires had military experience, at least.  Many saw combat action in Vietnam.  I was one of the few who went the college route after the draft was discontinued and allowed other options.  At the time, those without military experience were closely scrutinized by the veterans and constantly challenged to see if they could be counted on when it hit the fan.  The majority of the cops on the street were/became ‘warriors.’

I watched as hiring standards plummeted over the years.  Most Southern California cops, these days, have never been in a physical altercation.  Schools have a zero tolerance rule which mandates suspensions or expulsions for the slightest schoolyard scuffle.  The new hires go through academy training and hit the street with the ‘tapout’ mentality, only to discover real crooks don’t play by those rules.  Couple that with the AYSO upbringing (everybody gets a chance, and everybody gets promoted) and you now have a workforce of disasters waiting to happen.

Hendrex delivered exactly what his pre-hire profile would have expected.

‘Warrior’? No.  ‘Hunter’? No.  ‘Gatherer’? No. ‘Stay behind and keep the campfire going’? Pretty close.  Hendrex is taking the brunt of the criticism, but there were four others in that elevator.  Sworn or not, there were five guns steps away from preventing additional carnage.  Not one took a ‘warrior’ lead and told the group, “F this, I’m pushing into the fight.”

‘Warriors’ –0.  ‘Fire Watchers’ –5.


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.
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