It’s been nine months since a kid who’d raised more red flags than a North Korean military parade murdered seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the days and weeks following that horror, it was revealed that officials at the school, the district, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and even the FBI had multiple opportunities to both improve the school’s security and intervene with the shooter directly as a result of multiple incidents and warnings they’d received. None of them did anything.
Given what we’ve learned about virtually everyone at every level of responsibility surrounding the Parkland shooting — plus the last two weeks’ hijinks involving the recent midterm elections — the only possible conclusion is that Broward County, Florida is suffering from metastatic incompetence and corruption on a level rarely seen outside a Central American kleptocracy.
The South Florida Sun Sentintel’s David Fleshler and Megan O’Matz published an excellent article last week recounting the cascading blunders and jaw-dropping failures that directly contributed to those seventeen dead bodies and seventeen more wounded. Fleshler and O’Matz note that, despite the rampant misfeasance, only a couple of lower level deputies had been disciplined as a result of the carnage. One was suspended for three days and another received a written reprimand.
The only employee of any note who’s no longer earning a paycheck (though he has generous retirement benefits), is Scot Peterson, the MSDHS school resource officer who notoriously stayed outside the building, listening to the sounds of gunfire inside while innocent people were being slaughtered. He resigned rather than be suspended in February, days after the shooting.
Now, though, after the commission that’s been investigating the shooting released some of its findings, a higher level Broward County Sheriff’s Office figure has resigned and another has been placed on administrative leave.
Jan Jordan, the captain formerly in charge of the Parkland division, resigned several days after she was widely criticized by a state commission for her role leading the response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.
She cited “personal reasons” in her separation form.
What were the actions for which Jordan was criticized?
Capt. Jan Jordan, the sheriff’s Parkland district commander, was “overwhelmed,” a Coconut Creek Deputy Chief Greg Lees told commission investigators. “I could see it,” he said. “I tried to help her.”
Sheriff’s Lt. Stephen O’Neill described Jordan’s manner of speech during the crisis as “dream-like” and called the command structure “ineffective” and “not engaged with the problem.”
Worse, it was Jordan who ordered that responding officers set up a perimeter around the school rather than moving in and engaging the shooter, which has been the standard police tactic designed to save lives in active shooter situations since Columbine.
And then there’s Sgt. Brian Miller, who was the first supervisory level law enforcement officer to arrive during the shooting.
“He sat up on Holmberg Road for 10 minutes,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the state commission investigating the shooting. “He heard gunshots and he didn’t move. He never got on the radio. He was the first supervisor on the scene, and he never moved, even after deputies and officers were going into that building.”
Miller has been put on paid leave pending an investigation into his response that day.
And that’s it. Everyone else in any position of authority in Broward County is still on the job. That includes MSD principal Ty Thompson and his assistant principals, Boward County Schools superintendent Robert Runcie (who rated himself “highly effective” in a recent self-evaluation), and, of course, the one-man clown show that is Broward County Sheriff Scott “Amazing Leadership” Israel.
Some have called on Israel to resign, but Israel told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday: “I have done nothing wrong that would warrant me to leave office. I’m committed to the Broward Sheriff’s Office and to the citizens who put me in office.”
Israel said he will remain on the job for “as long as the citizens want me to.”
Seventeen dead teachers and students, seventeen more injured, clearly-demonstrated disastrous inaction and mistakes in the response, and not one person has lost his or her job as a result of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. .
In fact, the only people who have paid a price for what happened that day (besides the dead and their grieving relatives) in Parkland are the law-abiding gun-owners of Florida. In the weeks following the murders, all the usual suspects conspired to push through a series of gun control measures which will do precisely nothing to stop the next broken individual from committing the same kind of atrocity.
Andy Pollack, father of one of the slain teens, called on other public servants to step down, too — those who shrunk from confronting the gunman or failed to provide Cruz with the proper psychiatric care and educational services.
“My daughter was murdered,” he said. “Now step up and accept responsibility for all your failed tactics that day and leading up to the 14th. The mental health caseworkers and the school administrators — they need to start coming clean.”
We wish the citizens of Broward County good luck.