National Law Enforcement Museum and Target® Present Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco
Washington, DC—On Thursday, February 7, 2013, the National Law Enforcement Museum hosted the sixth event in its Witness to History panel discussion series, held at the Pew Charitable Trusts Building in Washington, DC, and sponsored by Target®. The event marked the first time that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—on the ground when the 51-day raid began in Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993—have spoken publicly about their role in this tragic case.
“We were honored to host yet another successful Witness to History event as part of our continuing series,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig Floyd, who moderated the panel discussion. “Our excellent panel provided valuable insight, and each panelist shared his unique perspective on this seminal moment in law enforcement history.”
Panel discussion included expert analysis and firsthand accounts from Bill Buford, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Little Rock Field Office; Pete Mastin, ATF (ret.) Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division; Jerry Petrilli, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Albuquerque Field Office; and Dick Reavis, Author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. A Q&A session allowed audience members to interact with the panelists at the end of the discussion.
Acting ATF Director, B. Todd Jones, was also in attendance and shared his thoughts on the events at Waco to open up the Q&A portion of the program. “This was the biggest gunfight involving federal law enforcement in the history of America,” he said. “The men who were there that day were all heroes, in my mind.”
Each of the agents on the panel shared insight into what they felt went wrong, as well as how ATF has improved operations as a result of what happened at Waco. According to Mr. Buford, “One thing that came as a result of Waco, was a strong contingency plan. We have that for every operation we run now.”
The Museum’s Witness to History series focuses on significant events in law enforcement history that shaped regional and national identity, told through narratives and accounts from those involved. The first five events focused on the 1963 shooting of President John F. Kennedy’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas; the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; the 1982 Air Florida Flight 90 crash in Washington, DC; the 1968 assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles; and the 2002 Washington, DC-area sniper attacks.
Thursday evening’s event, Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco, was open to the public, with about 150 guests in attendance. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Witness to History program, visit www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org/WitnesstoHistory. Stay tuned for details about the next event, scheduled for April 10, 2013, at the Navy Memorial Burke Theater in Washington, DC.
Please contact WitnessToHistory@nleomf.org or 202.737.3400 with any questions regarding this program.
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About the National Law Enforcement Museum
Authorized by Congress in the year 2000, the 55,000-square-foot National Law Enforcement Museum will be a mostly underground institution located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square. The Museum will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibits, comprehensive collection of historical and contemporary artifacts, extensive resources for research, and diverse educational programming. Museum construction has commenced with a projected opening in 2015. The Museum is an initiative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a private non-profit [501(c)(3)] organization established in 1984. The Memorial Fund is dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers and to promoting officer safety. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum, visit www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org.