OSLO, Norway — A police committee on Friday cleared Norwegian officers of major failures for their response to the massacre of 77 people this summer, but families of the victims called the inquiry too weak.
Police have been criticized for a series of mishaps that slowed them down as they tried to reach the island where right-wing killer Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered dozens of youths. Olav Soenderland, the head of the committee that evaluated police action during the terror attacks, defended their response, saying they acted as quickly as possible.
"We have studied the situation where there was a need for the fastest possible action," Soenderland told reporters. "We haven't been able to point to any points of improvement there."
It took 90 minutes for police to reach the island. Officers struggled after a boat broke down because it was overloaded and all police helicopter pilots were on vacation at the same time. Breivik told investigators he was surprised and had expected a SWAT team to swoop down within 15 minutes of his attack.
A spokesman for the relatives and families of the victims said the internal investigation lacked self-criticism.
"They should have asked themselves whether they, hypothetically, could have acted faster," Trond Henry Blattmann said. "If they had done so they might have come up with a different answer."
Breivik has confessed to the killings but denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe.