The school shooting in Parkland, Florida, just becomes more tragic as new details are learned of the local sheriff’s department response – actually, its lack of response.
Last week, Judicial Watch released Broward County Sheriff’s Office training and operation materials that specifically direct that the first one or two officers on the scene of an active shooter incident “will immediately go to confront the shooter.”
The Judicial Watch investigative team used a Florida Sunshine Act record request to uncover the Standard Operating Procedure and lesson plans for an active shooter incident.
The Sheriff’s Office confirmed that armed school resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson, was first on the scene of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but he did not enter the school to confront suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz. Three other deputies also arrived on the scene but did not enter, the Sheriff’s Office said. The Broward County materials direct that if four officers are on the scene of an active shooter incident, they are to form a “quad” formation and enter the building.
The lesson plan instructs officers to immediately confront a shooter:
History shows when a suspect is confronted by any armed individual (police, security, concealed carry person) they either shoot it out with that person or kill themselves. Either way, the shooting of innocent bystanders must stop. Now, the first officer or two officers on scene will immediately go to confront the shooter. Military tactics work well in this situation. The two man “bounding overwatch” is our response.
Bounding overwatch means that officers alternate advancing and providing cover as they move toward a shooter.
Using lessons learned from Columbine (the 1999 high school massacre where officers waited for a SWAT team and allowed two shooters to continue), the first four responding officers are directed to form a “quad” and approach from all directions:
During Columbine, the response to an ongoing shooting situation was to contain the suspect. After Columbine the International Chiefs of Police addressed the problem with the response and came up with the “Quad” or diamond formation. With the quad, the first four officers to respond entered the building with coverage in all directions. This was critical to address the concerns of officers who previously would not enter and just wait for SWAT.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a news conference that he “saw … a deputy [Peterson] arrive … take up a position and he never went in.” Israel said Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
The lesson plan clearly states, “If you are on scene or in the area and hear gunshots, you should immediately access what you have and prepare to respond. Remember, every time you hear a gunshot in an active shooter incident; you have to believe that is another victim being killed.”
The training materials also state that the first officers on the scene will “engage the suspect,” which Peterson did not do. “There are now three teams during Active Shooter Incident [Contact, Extraction and Rescue Task Force]: Contact Team: Is first on scene, 1-4 deputies, they will be actively engaging/searching for suspect (HOT ZONE).”
The lesson plan lists “priorities of life” as: “1) Hostages/victims; 2) Innocent Bystanders; 3) Police/deputies; and 4) Suspects.”
“If in doubt about going through the door after a suspect, think about the victims and where they stand on the list,” the plan states.
The importance of a fast and effective response is emphasized: “Time is critical in each of these incidents. This is like no other crime. The motive is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Why? Because the bad guy knows ‘we’ are coming.”
An exercise designed for a lone deputy on the scene of an active shooting is intended to “get the deputy moving towards the gunfire, passing dead students and others running by him.” However, “there is no reason to give up a good position of cover” if the shooting has stopped. “Remember the cavalry is on their way, so it’s better to hold, than to expose yourself to unknown threats.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office Standard Operating Procedure states:
If real time intelligence exists the sole deputy or a team of deputies may enter the area and/or structure to preserve life. A supervisor’s approval or on-site observation is not required for this decision.
If the situation turns to a barricade or hostage situation the response team will contain, isolate, communicate and wait for SWAT.”
Records obtained also show that Sheriff Israel is the second-highest-paid of Florida’s 67 sheriffs at $186,631 for Fiscal Year 2017/18. The sheriff was eligible for $2,000 in supplemental pay for completion of a 20-hour training course. In 2016, Israel received a warning letter that he had not successfully completed the course, and his supplemental pay was being withheld.
These documents show that the law enforcement agency failed the victims of the Parkland shooting. Lives were lost in Parkland because the Sheriff’s Office personnel were either poorly trained or failed to follow training protocols. This does not fit in with the liberal gun control mantra in the wake of Parkland, but you can rely on Judicial Watch to get you the truth and, we hope, educate enough Americans so lives will not be needlessly lost in the future.
The public safety is undermined by those who would put politics before the rule of law. Judicial Watch will continue to push back against these lawless sanctuary policies in court (see the big lawsuit in San Francisco) and in the public square.