How federal funding kept Nikolas Cruz from getting arrested and unable to purchase firearms

The net is widening in Broward County, ensnaring those who failed to stop Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people.  The Broward County School District's highly touted PROMISE program, initiated in 2012 and signed into policy in 2013, is coming under fire.  It prevented Nikolas Cruz from getting arrested, which could have blocked him from purchasing his armory, if convicted.

In the 2011-2012 school year, Broward County Public Schools had the highest number of school-related arrests statewide at 1,062.  Newly hired Superintendent Robert Runcie, with strong connections to the Obama administration, teamed up with community organizations like the NAACP, local law enforcement, and government agencies to sign the Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline to eliminate the "schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline" through programs such as PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support, and Education).

One of the program's participants, Juvenile Court judge Elijah Williams, speaking at a 2013 signing ceremony for PROMISE, made it clear it was all about the stats:

We already bought the ticket.  We are waiting for our numbers to come in.  We know we have hit the jackpot when our school related arrests go down, down down.

The collaborative agreement, signed by Runcie; Sheriff Scott Israel, now fully embroiled in his agency's failure to  get Cruz off the streets; state's attorneys; the president of the Broward chapter of the NAACP; and many others, has the fundamental goal of keeping  minority students involved in various "transgressions" away from law enforcement and out of the courts.

In one feature of PROMISE, Judge Williams circumvents the criminal justice system by participating in a simulated court hearing called "The Juvenile Justice System of Care," where he encourages the delinquent student to participate in the program rather than risk arrest.

The Obama administration's Department of Education was also involved in implementing PROMISE.  Obama, who routinely dangled carrots in the form of matching federal grants to local districts for their participation in Common Core and Race to the Top, doled out millions to Broward.

With the promise of federal monies, it's no surprise that Superintendent Runcie (annual salary: $335,000) was happy to oblige his friends in D.C.  Within a year of Runcie's arrival, student arrest rates were down 66 percent, and Broward County Schools were about to hit the federal jackpot.

On October 5, 2016, the School Board of Broward County Public Schools and its community partners signed the PROMISE agreement for the second time.  After the 2016 signing, it was announced a couple of weeks later on October 18, BCPS was the only large urban district in the country to receive a Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education totaling $53,808, 909.  One of the TIF's grant priorities is listed as "improved life for students in poverty/students of color." 

The February 14 Parkland school shooting is shedding light on PROMISE, and now some officials in Broward are speaking out about the school district's push to keep police out of the loop when crimes occur in schools. 

On The Ingraham Angle Friday night, the president of the Broward County Sheriff Deputies Association, Jeff Bell, said the problem with PROMISE is that it "took all discretion away from law enforcement to effect an arrest if we choose to."

On Sunday, CNN's Jake Tapper grilled Broward County's Sheriff Scott Israel on the myriad complaints his department received concerning Cruz prior to the shooting.  When Tapper brought up the Broward County School District's PROMISE program as a means to dish out the least punitive discipline against students who commit crimes, unlike Bell, Israel defended PROMISE, calling it "excellent" and saying it had nothing to do with the mass shooting.

Later, when Tapper pressed Israel on his lack of knowledge regarding specific complaints made about Cruz's violent behavior, saying there might be something "wrong with  PROMISE" if  a dangerous individual like Cruz is allowed to avoid an arrest after felonious behavior, Israel again said there's "nothing wrong with the program."  Asked by Tapper if he will resign, Sheriff Israel said he has no intention of resigning.  To date, no one has publicly asked Superintendent Runcie that same question.

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