More failures in Florida than lack of gun control

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

by Rick Jensen

Much went wrong leading to the massacre at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

There were 18 direct calls to the Broward County Sheriff’s office prior to the very disturbed Nicholas Cruz’ rampage through the school, ending 17 innocent lives. The shiny, new FBI call center in West Virginia did not even forward warning calls to the FBI office in Miami.

If Sheriff Deputy Peterson did take FBI active shooter training, then he disregarded the fact that he was taught to enter the building and engage the shooter prior to backup arriving. If he did not take the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT), he was unqualified for such duty.

I spoke with retired DEA Supervising Special Agent and former Hillsborough County (Tampa, Florida) Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffery Higgins, who said he would be surprised if an officer assigned to a school did not have this training.

They teach that even though it is best to have at least two officers “sweep” rooms in a building, it is, indeed, the duty of the officer to enter the building himself or herself to locate and engage the shooter to protect the children.

We have also learned that Broward County Sheriff Israel is a politician, a product of an elective process that encourages partisan politics to attain and then retain one’s position.

Could you imagine the additional crushing heartbreak in Broward County should it be true that there were calls for the Sheriff Deputies to “stand down” during or immediately after the shooting?

That is exactly what Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran has heard.

In a radio interview, Corcoran said, “There are numerous reports that there was a stand-down order, and that would have come above either of the school resource officer that was in the school that failed to go in or the officers outside. That would have come from above and probably been approved by [Sheriff Scott Israel,] himself.”

It sounds crazy, right?

One reason could be the “COLLABORATIVE AGREEMENT ON SCHOOL DISCIPLINE” of November 2013, by and between THE SCHOOL BOARD OF BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA and local police.

The agreement was a political solution to the problem of so much crime in Broward County public schools that people didn’t want their children attending.

Ordering police to stop arresting students accused of criminal behavior and seeking alternatives to arrests might reduce the number of reported crimes and thus make schools seem safer.

It worked.

School arrests dropped 40 percent, giving the impression that the superintendent and sheriff had reduced crime by 40 percent. Applause and awards followed while researchers discovered it was actually a façade.

Could this be why Broward County Sheriffs refused to arrest the Douglas School shooter for his many crimes of violence? Possibly.

The Collaborative Agreement specifically carves out minorities and students with disabilities. It states, “WHEREAS, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers.” It also instructs police officers to not arrest students for many, many misdemeanors and other crimes.

The Douglas High School shooter suffered from autism, considered by the government to be a disability. It was no secret to the many friends, family, counselors and government agency employees who encountered the shooter that he suffered from many emotional problems.

In fact, Florida’s Baker Act empowers police to involuntarily commit people with a history such as the shooter’s to involuntary psychological evaluation. The Broward County Sheriff refused.

Did the Sheriff’s office refuse to arrest this shooter in order to please political cronies with a low number of crimes being reported?

It was only a few days ago when Americans thought Sheriff’s Deputy Peterson simply missed the shooter in the school because Cruz was able to hide among students.

Not true.

Reports claimed Sheriff’s Deputy Peterson was supposed to await backup. Not if he was ALERRT trained.

As these “facts” have become known falsehoods, it isn’t too much to consider political policies may have contributed to the tragedy and need to be amended or repealed.

RICK JENSEN is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email