Posts Tagged ‘Sheriff’

Dereliction of Duty

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

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In successive days of late afternoon disclosures, what has become clear from the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida is a serious problem with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.  It’s also increasingly clear that the highly political Sheriff, who on Wednesday evening during CNN’s pant-hoot-howl-disguised-as-townhall, lashed out at NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch (@dloesch on Twitter,) had more than a few pressing reasons to deflect criticism and turn the attention of both the audience and media toward guns and the National Rifle Association.  On Thursday, we learned that there was a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy who had been assigned as a School Resource Officer on the Parkland campus who failed to enter the building to confront the shooter, for more than four minutes of the slightly more than five minutes the shooter was active in the building.  On Friday, this catastrophic dereliction was discovered to have been far worse: There were at least three more officers who arrived and likewise refrained from entering the building, even after police officers responding from Coral Springs arrived and independently entered the premises. There are no words to describe this betrayal.  There is no excuse Sheriff Scott Israel can offer.  It’s time for him to surrender his badge and gun, but also for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondy, to begin an investigation of the conduct of the Broward Sheriffs Office.

People are shrieking that the School Resource Officer, 33=year veteran of the Sheriffs Office, Deputy Scot Peterson, should be charged.  After all, during the period he stood holding his gun outside the building while the shooting continued inside, it is likely that most of the deaths occurred.  He was there in perhaps less than one minute after the shooting commenced, but never entered.  Modern(post Columbine) active shooter doctrine directs officers to enter the premises immediately, backup or not, body armor or not, and to engage the shooter or shooters as quickly as possible because it is opposition that almost always stops these killers, either by being killed, or by killing themselves.  Deputy Peterson, apparently milking the taxpayer in his last years before retirement, obviously wasn’t interested in putting himself or his pension at risk to save school kids and teachers about which he seems not to have been even slightly concerned.

Friday’s revelation only makes it worse, as it appears at least three more Broward deputies arrived soon after, while the shooting was still in progress, and together with Peterson, none of them attempted entry into the building.  The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was able to walk out unscathed and unchallenged.

I know there are plenty of fine officers, including the heroes from Coral Springs, who arrived and entered immediately as all current active-shooter doctrines demand, and this is not a general impeachment of all law enforcement, but it is an impeachment of Sheriff Israel’s leadership, or more properly, the lack thereof.  To have a department responsible for such a populous jurisdiction, but unwilling even to enter into lethal combat with an active shooter speaks volumes about how little worth Sheriff Israel has brought to his community, unless you value political patronage campaigns, in which he apparently enjoyed great success.

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         Rather than being “With Her,” Sheriff Israel should have been training his deputies

Perhaps Sheriff Israel should have spent more of his career training his deputies, insisting on superior performance and adherence to departmental policies.  Perhaps rather than assigning an officer ready for retirement to patrol the school campus, he might have considered sending an experienced and courageous officer to protect the most precious resource in his county.  Instead, he appears to have assigned a deputy to the school who was much closer to the end of his career than its beginning, and seemed not to be very interested in getting inside to face the shooter and protect the children and faculty.

This is sickening.  It’s bad enough that the FBI had every opportunity to have prevented this tragedy.  It’s bad enough that over the last few years, Nikolas Cruz had repeated encounters with the police and with the school, but he was permitted to go on until this disaster. None of it is excusable in any respect, but what is simply intolerable, and what must not be accepted, is a pattern of malingering and dereliction on the part of multiple officers, suggesting a mindset that is part of the corporate culture of Sheriff Israel’s department.  This sort of thing is always the result of poor leadership.  It’s always the result of bad management and a tendency in government to keep the ineffectual around long after they should have been terminated.  Instead, they’re permitted to linger on the tax-payer’s back, squandering a payroll that could have been spent on more effective public servants.

I am always loathe to second-guess the actions of officers on the scene, because there can always be factors of which a distant observer like myself might quite naturally be wholly unaware. I have family in law enforcement, and I know a laege number of courageous officers who protect the community in which I live. I know too many good men and women who take seriously their oaths to haphazardly malign peace officers. I know most of our officers, the great body of them, would not have hesitated to run headlong into that school in an attempt to neutralize the shooter, even at obvious risk to life and limb.  Sadly, this was not the case with the first four Deputies to respond to that school in Parkland, and it apparently isn’t part of the normal culture of Sheriff Israel’s department.  On the other hand, I’m sure when he was kissing-up to Hillary Clinton, as pictured above, it was his best officers who were present to provide additional security to augment the needs of whatever Secret Service protection Clinton may have enjoyed at the time.  The school gets the ROAD Deputy(Retired On Active Duty,) while more courageous officers are sent to protect much less precious things than our children.

It’s time for Sheriff Israel to resign.  It would have been bad enough to simply know the truth of this, but that it took Scott Israel more than a week to disclose this information suggests he had been hoping to cover it up or justify it so as to reduce the public relations black-eye he almost certainly will now be called upon to endure. Sheriff Israel should be ashamed, as he seemed to be when first detailing the inaction of Deputy Peterson on Thursday, but now, it has become quite evident that this shame is more thoroughly institutional within his department, and it’s time for Israel to acknowledge his shame by resigning from his office. Platitudes about “taking responsibility” will no longer suffice.  Sheriff Israel must go, just as FBI director Christopher Wray must go in the wake of the FBI’s disastrous contribution to this catastrophe.

People have asked me if the officers could be charged.  I am not entirely familiar with Florida statutes, but I do know that in a number of broadly applicable court rulings, officers have no affirmative duty to protect anybody. For that reason alone, I doubt that any of the malingerers who were derelict in the performance of their duties will face any legal ramifications. Yes, they might lose their jobs, but that says nothing of actual criminal or civil liability.

I hope the people of Broward County will seek out a new Sheriff who engenders more courage in his or her officers than Scot Peterson, who seems to have been sub-par even in comparison with Paul Blart. “Shameful” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Lastly, I wonder how long it will be before some enterprising journalist(therefore nobody from CNN) will ask for a count of shots and/or victims hit when the surveillance videos are all synchronized such that an analysis of that sort can be made. How many of the students and faculty members died while their would-be rescuers stood around outside in a defensive posture?  If I were the parents and surviving students and faculty of Parkland, that’s what I’d be demanding to know, and it’s an answer for which Sheriff Israel must be held accountable.