Thankfully, I was not injured in the Boston Marathon Bombings, nor were any of my close friends or family. However, the events of April 15-19, 2013 left an indelible mark on my memory. As Chief of Staff for the MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, I wore many hats from policy advisor and budget analyst to office manager. One of the hats I wore most frequently was that of a crisis manager. I was responsible for assisting in the deployment of our agencies’ resources and ensuring that the Secretary and Governor were briefed and advised on any developing issues. As a result, there are really only a handful of people who had a more complete look at the week’s events. For this reason, I thought I would evaluate the Boston Marathon Bombing Wikipedia page.
Having never visited the page before I was shocked to see how much information had been edited and uploaded to the page. I had anticipated that critical aspects of the investigation and critical contextual issues would have been omitted. After a complete review, I find the page to be very comprehensive. There are over 10 subsections that cover obvious topics like the response, investigation and manhunt, but also a synopsis on the bombers’ alleged motivations and affiliated arrests that took place in the aftermath of the bombings. If I had to nitpick, the introduction is missing references to the MA State Police and the critical role they played in the intelligence analysis through the State Police Fusion Center and Crime Lab. It also references the exchange of gunfire during the standoff in Watertown as occurring after midnight, but I believe it happened earlier in the evening, as I was already on scene shortly after midnight, and it was the shootout that prompted my deployment to the area. The article is also up to date, as recent developments in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial have been referenced as his defense counsel pushes a change of venue order. In fact, it was actually last edited on September 28, 2014.
I was surprised, however, that there were links to the Todashev shooting in Florida. My good friend was “Trooper 1,” who was referred to by the Florida State’s Attorney in the report on the Todashev shooting by an FBI agent during his interrogation. There were also references to certain persons of interest linked to the Tsarnaevs. I did not anticipate that thorough of a link created between these individuals on a Wikipedia page. There are obviously a number of relevant things not included in this article, but they are law enforcement sensitive and in some instances classified, and therefore have not been publicly reported on.
As far as sourcing is considered, there are 335 references listed along with a handful of additional external links. This event received national and international coverage which resulted in hundreds of newspaper articles and magazine citations contained throughout the page. Even the report put out by our very own Harvard University was included in the references.
The article demonstrated Wikipedia’s commitment to neutrality by not only using the term “allegedly” to described actions carried out by the Tsarnaev brothers, but also by including references to statements by Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau and former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis that were eventually proved inaccurate. Deveau alleged, in reference to the shootout his officers engaged in with Tamerlan, that they had an arsenal of guns. Fact remained that Tamerlan only had a Ruger 9mm at his disposal, and a few remaining pressure cooker bombs. They did have a lot of 9mm rounds, in which Dzhokhar reloaded into clips that he handed his brother during the firefight. This must have appeared like an arsenal in the chaos. Another reference to the mystery gun Dzhokhar had in the boat was proved wrong. Commissioner Davis and others were quoted as saying that Dzhokhar exchange gunfire at the boat standoff on Franklin St. It would later be revealed that he was unarmed.
Overall, the article was well structured. I thought readability, formatting and illustrations were generally on point. If there was one area that could have been improved upon it would be the illustrations. There were so many photos taken from the week’s events, that to have a picture of a building in West New York, NJ seems silly. It also did not include any of the leaked MA State Police photos that were published in Boston Magazine.
Being my first time to the page, I was very impressed. There were more aspects of the investigation listed than I had anticipated. It also served to conjure up those memories again. I was expecting to be compelled to edit the page, but I think they have done a great job. I was, however, annoyed at the section critiquing the Governor’s decision to have residents stay indoors during the manhunt. As one of the 6 people who recommended that course of action to the Governor, the criticism still aggravates me. If only the public knew the full breadth of what we were dealing with, and the limited time we had to make that decision.
Perhaps I will edit in my rant and see how long it takes the truth seekers to schedule it for deletion.
By Wikipedia user: theYOTM