Increasingly damning information continues to pour in regarding the inadequate response in the wake of the Florida high school shooting attack, and the latest details raise even more questions.
A shocking new report claims that a commanding officer from the Sheriff’s department ordered some of the initial responders to “stage” and set up a “perimeter” outside the scene of the incident, instead of immediately ordering or allowing officers to rush in to neutralize the suspect.
“It’s atrocious,” a law enforcement source who was on the scene after the shooting told Fox News. “If deputies were staging it could have cost lives.”
Carla Kmiotek is a sergeant for the Coral Springs Fire Department who claimed she was one of the first responding officers to the scene on February 14. She said that an active shooter call is “multifaceted when discussing tactics and scene command. Our officers are trained to respond and immediately press to the threat.”
Kmiotek added, “Setting up a perimeter and incident command is a necessary element of the response… determined from the intelligence known as the event is unfolding.” While the Sheriff’s office continues to stall on a response, there is speculation that responding officers were left frustrated by the commands given by those up the chain.
Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, was shocked that a command may have been called to set up a perimeter, as indicated by dispatch logs obtained by Fox News. He said that unless there were 50 officers already inside, confronting the shooter, this should not have been the first action. “If that is the correct log at ten minutes, that we were more concerned with the perimeter than finding the shooter, it was a bad command. It could have stalled our officers or cost lives.”
While much of the controversy has focused on the responding deputies who failed to engage the active shooter, yet more questions remain about the dozens of tips received by law enforcement in the weeks, months and years leading up to the mass shooting.
New information has come to light that indicates the Broward County Sheriff’s office dealt with almost 50 calls regarding shooter Nikolas Cruz and his younger brother over the past 10 years.
The law enforcement agency received at least 45 calls for service relating to Cruz or his brother from 2008 to 2017, before the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, as reported by CNN. The network claimed it has tried repeatedly to contact the Sheriff’s office to clear up the details but has received no reply.
On Saturday, the Sheriff’s office issued a statement to Twitter, that read: “Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family. STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE.” Despite the defiant response, this fact is also now in dispute.
Meanwhile, the man at the helm of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Scott Israel, has refused to step down, claiming that the responsibility lies at the feet of those responding officers, and should not be lumped on him as Sheriff. In an extraordinary interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Israel claimed he had displayed “amazing leadership” during his tenure as county Sheriff.
Israel admitted having been informed about officer Scott Peterson’s response to the shooting prior to attending a CNN townhall meeting, in which he lambasted NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch and sat opposite to suriving students of the Marjoy Stoneman High School attack. Tapper pushed the Sheriff on this key detail.
“Sheriff, when did you find out that Deputy Peterson had not gone into the building? How soon after the shooting did you know that?” Tapper pressed. “Not for days,” Israel responded. “How many days?” Tapper continued. “I’m not sure,” Israel hesitantly responded.
Tapper went on: “because you spent much of the Wednesday night town hall on CNN, with the entire Stoneman Douglas community, students and teachers and parents, attacking the NRA, saying that police need more powers, more money to prevent future tragedies. You didn’t disclose any of this to the crowd then, the Stoneman Douglas High School community. Did you know it then? Did you know it Wednesday night?”
“It was spoken about during that — earlier during that day,” Israel finally admitted.
Still, Tapper pressed the Sheriff to take some responsiblity for the poor police response to the deadly mass shooting, but he refused.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel refusing to resign telling @nbc6: "I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility." Clip from our one-on-one interview below. #DouglasHighSchool pic.twitter.com/FV5Gn0ZEBY
— Erika Glover 🎥 (@ErikaGloverNBC6) February 25, 2018
“I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence,” Israel said sternly. “Deputies make mistakes. Police officers make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But it’s not the responsibility of the general or the president, if you have a deserter. You look into this. We’re looking into this aggressively. And we will take care of it, and justice will be served.”
“I have given amazing leadership to this agency,” Israel added.
When informed of Florida State Representative Bill Hager’s letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott calling for Sheriff Scott Israel to be removed for negligence of duty and incompetence, Israel responded:
“It was a shameful — of course I won’t resign. It was a shameful letter. It was politically motivated.”
Many have criticized Sheriff Israel for failing to take responsibility for his law enforcement personnel.
“Real leaders take responsibility for everything their people do, and fail to do,” wrote Steven Bucci at The Daily Signal. “Israel said he gave the school resource officer a weapon and training, but that he is not responsible for the officer’s lack of heart to take action.”
“Seriously, sheriff? Training the spirit to protect is not part of a leader’s job? So you have no responsibility for the performance of your people? That is a cowardly supposition, and an inaccurate one. If your deputy failed to go to the sound of gunfire to save those children, it is on you. If he was too incompetent to recognize the shooter was still firing inside the building, it is on you, sheriff. Leaders take responsibility.”
Servant leaders work to empower their people in order to accomplish the mission. Beyond that, they give their troops the credit in success. But most importantly, if they fail, the true leader stands up and says, “It’s on me.” Someone needs to send Israel back for some remedial leadership training—he has forgotten his basics. Israel, and our nation as a whole, need to return to the ideal of servant leadership.