EXCLUSIVE — FL House Speaker Richard Corcoran: Obama-Era ‘No-Arrest Policy’ May Have Shielded Florida Shooter

FT. LAUDERDALE - FEBRUARY 19: Nikolas Cruz appears in court with attorney Melissa McNeil (L) for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on February 19, 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High …
Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty Images

An Obama-era “no-arrest policy” guideline for school discipline may have hindered the ability of authorities to prevent Nikolas Cruz’s mass murder of 17 persons at a Florida high school on February 14, said the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Richard Corcoran.

Corcoran, a Republican from Florida’s Pasco County, made his comments on Monday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel coordinated with the Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie to implement a school disciplinary guidelines — entitled the PROMISE program: Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education — oriented around racial and ethnic quotas.

Breitbart News’s Dr. Susan Berry reported: “The Obama-era Departments of Education and Justice – under education secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder –issued school guidelines in 2014 that claimed students of color are “disproportionately impacted” by suspensions and expulsions, a situation they said leads to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that discriminates against minority and low-income students.”

A January 2014 memorandum from the Departments of Education and Justice indicated that federal investigations of schools may be initiated based on “public reports” of unequal racial outcomes via disciplinary policies: “The Departments also may initiate investigations based on public reports of racial disparities in student discipline combined with other information, or as part of their regular compliance monitoring activities.” Such racial disparities, asserted the memorandum, are likely functions of racial and ethnic discrimination: “Significant and unexplained racial disparities in student discipline give rise to concerns that schools may be engaging in racial discrimination that violates the Federal civil rights laws.”

The PROMISE program’s website describes the policy’s purpose: “The intent of PROMISE is to safeguard the student from entering the judicial system.” It also contains a “Diversity” subcategory.

On Sunday, Israel praised the PROMISE program:

[The PROMISE program is] giving the school — the school has the ability under certain circumstances not to call the police, not to get the police involved on misdemeanor offenses and take care of it within the school. It’s an excellent program. It’s helping many, many people. What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system.

Pollak asked Corcoran about investigations into the PROMISE program:

Mr. Speaker, let me ask you about the question of incompetence in the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. There’s this theory floating around out there that it wasn’t just incompetence, that this was the result of policy, and specifically a policy of not punishing students for behavioral problems, a policy of not exposing students to the criminal justice system, but rather trying to let them adjust socially and avoid consequences that could come to them down the road if they have problems in school, but essentially a hands-off policy in the police department. Is that something you’re looking into, as well?

Corcoran is proposing legislation to do away with the PROMISE program, he said: 

Not only are we looking into it, and not only is it part of the cause of our call for [Scott Israel’s] incompetence, in the legislation that we’re about to propose we’re doing away with what we call the “No-Arrest policy.” They call it something nice and flowery like the “PROMISE program.” It’s not a promise program. What it is is allowing kids who are constantly engaged in — it’s supposed to only be misdemeanor behavior, but how does the school personnel know if the law enforcement isn’t called? It’s felony behavior, and numerous of those felonies were alleged against [Nikolas Cruz]. Nothing was done because of this PROMISE policy, and as a result we have this tremendous tragedy that we’re all suffering through.

Israel has since claimed to be investigating his office’s involvement with the PROMISE program following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said Corcoran:

[Scott Israel is] investigating a deal that he made with the superintendent, that basically created under Obama a no-arrest policy. So he basically said, ‘Don’t tell me unless it’s a serious crime.’ Now we know that Cruz was bringing bullets, knives, all kinds of things to school. All of them were given to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, nothing was done. And now he’s investigating whether that happened, too, after he basically entered into an agreement with the school board not to tell him.

On last Friday’s Breitbart News Tonight, Conservative Review’s Michelle Malkin speculated on the relationship between the PROMISE program and the inability of local school authorities or law enforcement to prevent Nikolas Cruz from carrying out his mass murder despite repeated “red flags” and warnings:

The link between the social justice school administrators who adopted those radical left-wing policies subsidized by federal tax dollars that have the aim and goal of eradicating any kind of disproportionate reporting actions on these campuses because too many Latino and black students were being reported. So what did they do instead? Report no one. It’s not a big leap to think that that attitude seeped into the Broward County deputies that were assigned to patrol the school and school resource office, as well. It just goes to show that political correctness always has bloody consequences. We knew that when it came to jihad. How many other school districts have adopted these same “conflict resolution” policies that result in looking the other way at clear menaces?

Corcoran joined 73 other Republican state lawmakers in Florida in calling on Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Israel from his position as sheriff of Broward County.

Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).


Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.


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