NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake announced that the department is implementing recommendations based on a committee’s findings of its 2019 response before the Christmas Day bombing.
More than a year before the explosion, Metro police received a tip that Anthony Warner was building bombs in the RV outside his home. At the time, police went to Warner's home, saw the RV but never spoke with him.
Ed Yarbrough served as the after-action review committee chairman.
Now, police will be reminded about legal resources they can talk to about getting warrants."Even if they had gotten the warrant, and gone to the house, and possibly the RV, this is a year and 4 months before the bomb itself was detonated. He may have had baking soda on the table, but you can’t arrest a man for having baking soda," Yarbrough said.
The review released Wednesday found that the bomb squad officer who followed up on the tip did not document his efforts, nor did he attempt to contact the bomber’s employer, family, or neighbors. The report makes several recommendations to ensure that cases don’t “fall through the cracks.”
The committee concluded there is no way to know the bombing could've been prevented and that officers followed procedures when they were called to check on Warner in 2019. Chief Drake said one issue was the lack of documentation about that interaction, and that's one thing that will change.
“While the committee concluded that there is no way to know for sure whether the Christmas Day bombing could have been prevented, and that patrol officers followed protocols and procedures during the August 2019 call, deficiencies were identified in the follow-up investigative process,” Chief Drake said Wednesday morning. “It is of paramount importance to all of us that any deficiencies are corrected.”
The committee also recommended there be random audits of Metro's Hazardous Devices Unit, and that there be a monthly summit between the unit, the FBI and ATF. They will also be implementing a four-step process before a case is considered closed. Drake said, "I think this is going to make us better moving forward."
Chief Drake formed the five-member committee back in January to focus on the August 2019 response and determine if there were any gaps that the department could learn from going forward.
MNPD officials address review of department’s 2019 response to Anthony Warner's home before Christmas bombing:
MNPD said the committee also recommended the following:
1. "Require that all efforts to follow-up with any individual regarding an HDU investigation be documented, even if the efforts do not result in progress or contact. Such actions should include, but are not limited to, attempts to call, attempts to contact, number of times knocked on a suspect’s door, computer checks, database checks, etc.—RECOMMENDATION BEING IMPLEMENTED THROUGH HDU COMPONENT POLICY"
2. "Conduct random quarterly audits of Hazardous Devices Unit case files to ensure that the best investigative practices are being used and all documentation is being properly completed—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED"
3. "Establish a monthly explosive summit attended by MNPD Hazardous Devices Unit technicians, MNPD Specialized Investigations Division representatives, FBI representatives, ATF representatives, and Tennessee Department of Homeland Security representatives. During the summit, representatives discuss investigations and what casework should take place to further those investigations—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED; FBI, ATF & TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY AGREE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MONTHLY SUMMIT."
4. "Following each Explosive Summit meeting, the captain of the Special Operations Division or his/her designee will distribute an email to the precinct commander whose geographical area is affected by an investigation in order to keep that commander updated on situations that could impact precinct-based officers/detectives—RECOMMENDATION TO BE IMPLEMENTED"
5. "Initiate a four-part confirmative closure prior to officially marking a case inactive, so as to ensure the original information has not changed."
a. "A reasonable attempt shall be made to follow-up with the reporting person, complainant, or those who have information related to the allegation/incident;"
b. "Federal database checks shall be conducted through the FBI, ATF, DEA, DHS and other applicable agencies;"
c. "State and local database checks shall be conducted through the MNPD, State of Tennessee, Joint Terrorism Task Force, and other applicable components;"
d. "The Specialized Investigations Division shall be contacted for a final database and online check, and if an investigation is halted due to lack of probable cause or other legal reason, the MNPD’s Case Preparation component, legal advisor, and/or the District Attorney’s Office should be contacted to discuss the full scope of options.—RECOMMENDATION TO BE IMPLEMENTED"
6. "Remind all MNPD officers, through roll call training, of the legal resources available to assist them in determining whether sufficient probable cause exists to seek a search warrant. The roll call training should emphasize that the greater the potential danger to the community and its citizens, the more likely it should be to seek legal consultation.—RECOMMENDATION ACCEPTED; DEVELOPMENT IN PROGRESS"
7. "Submit a State of Tennessee “Suspicious Activity Report” (SAR) on all Hazardous Devices Unit calls where the totality of the circumstances would lead an investigator to reasonably believe that more investigative efforts would be needed, or if the HDU technician believes the information could assist with other investigative efforts. The SAR report is designed to distribute information regarding suspicious activity throughout an established distribution network that includes the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Tennessee Fusion Center, and other state & federal partners. All acquired information is then analyzed and compared with other information from around the country to determine if the respective data—when correlated with additional data via integrative analysis—can assist in finding and defining larger criminal frameworks.—RECOMMENDATION IMPLEMENTED"
Earlier this year, an FBI report said Warner was grappling with feelings of paranoia and eccentric conspiracy theories before the explosion but did not appear to be motivated by political ideology. The agency said Warner's actions were determined not to be related to terrorism.
In February, Metro Council voted to create a separate nine-member Special Bombing Review Commission to take a hard look at the circumstances and response to the bombing.
Shockwaves from the blast could be felt in the days following as telecommunications struggled, flights were grounded, and dispatch disrupted.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.