The more that the public learns about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the worse the story becomes. From sheriffs and school resource officers not responding to the shooting to a sheriff’s deputy attempting to prevent first responders from helping students until the area was ‘secure,’ the response paints a picture of terrible law enforcement in Broward County.
It was police from other areas who responded to the shooting first; local police heard the call and rushed to what they thought was a serious firefight. Two Miramar SWAT officers responded to the shooting. One responded to the call because he was in the area, while it is not known where the other officers came from, but they rushed into a firefight with a violent individual loaded for a fight, showing the bravery SWAT officers are expected to show. And for that bravery, they were suspended from SWAT.
Police spokeswoman Tania Rues confirmed that both were nearby when the shooting happened.
The Miramar Police Department suspended the two officers for responding to the shooting. They also suspended a third officer for posting to social media in a critical manner concerning the reaction by local law enforcement in Broward County.
On February 22, all three officers were removed from the ‘privileged program’ and told they had to return their rifles.
They remain on regular police duty, however.
Miramar PD suggested that the officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting.
Further, they suggested that the presence of two highly trained officers created an ‘officer safety’ issue and left the two SWAT officers ‘unaccountable’ for their actions.
The Broward County Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President, Jeff Marano, felt differently.
Jeff Marano made a statement saying that “while it may have been a violation of policy to not notify their supervisors that they were going there, their intentions were brave and heroic.” I think most would agree with that sentiment.
Police officers are supposed to run toward danger; it’s what’s expected of them.
It’s why so many law enforcement badges, logos, and vehicles proudly display the phrase “to protect and serve.” While legally, police have no duty to respond and ‘protect’ citizens (District of Columbia v. Heller 2008), the vast majority see their role, and properly so, as running toward the gunfire, not away from it.
Perhaps that is why during the 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport, more than 2,000 law enforcement officers responded to reports of a shooting.
2,000 law enforcement officers responded to a shooting where five were killed and six were wounded.
According to Jim Bueermann, who is President of the Police Foundation, a D.C.-based policing thinktank and research organization, “police officers have an inherent bias for action, and the minute they hear there’s a violent incident underway their immediate inclination is to go to it and try to stop the violence that is occurring.”
Police spokeswoman Rues, however, said that research and review of the incident at the Aurora Theater and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shootings ‘showed’ that the best thing is a limited, well-controlled and directed response.
Perhaps a limited response is the best. A well-coordinated response is almost always the best.
However, it is obvious that the agency that took control of the response, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, made numerous terrible decisions.
To begin with, no less than FOUR Broward County Sheriff’s officers failed to engage the shooter, in clear violation of ‘best practices’ and policies around the nation that have been in place since the Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007.
Further, officers at the scene attempted to prevent first responders from treating wounded children still in the building.
The policy has been, for years, that police on the scene of a mass shooting are to engage the shooter IMMEDIATELY.
The reasoning behind this policy is simple to understand.
Firstly, a shooter being fired on cannot concentrate on shooting innocents; they must also contend with incoming fire.
Secondly, an officer may be able to pin a shooter in a certain area. This would prevent the shooter from being able to seek more victims, and it means that as additional offers arrive, they can more easily fight the shooter.
Finally, many school shooters commit suicide when confronted with armed resistance. The sooner that armed resistance can get to the scene, the sooner that shooter may choose to kill themselves.