Broward Coward: The final 'fail' from law enforcement

There were a lot of horrible law enforcement failures in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.  The FBI's missed tips were terrible.  The sheriff's department's failure to notice repeated calls to the house were awful.  An investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families' declaration that all was well with Nikolas Cruz was unbelievable.  The rest of the list is here.

The final one, the failure of the school's paid guard to go in there and confront the shooter, is the most stinging.  

How could he have been so cowardly?

Via Legal Insurrection, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports:

The police officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resigned Thursday, under investigation for failing to enter the building as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people.

Sheriff Scott Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson should have "went [sic] in.  Addressed the killer.  Killed the killer."

Peterson, 54, came under scrutiny after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered the school with an AR-15 rifle and killed 14 students and three educators on Valentine's Day.

Peterson has been a school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas since 2009.  He began working for the sheriff's office in 1985.  His annual salary in 2016 was $75,673.72, according to sheriff's office records.

The thing is, I taught kids back when I lived in Los Angeles, teaching catechism, and was a member of the Church's child safety committee, commissioned with developing contingency plans for the unthinkable, even in a catechism setting.  Having had the experience of teaching, all I can say is, I wouldn't want guns in the classroom.  What I'd want are men with guns.  Men with guns who aren't afraid to break things.  Which is why the school security guard story is so disturbing.

President Trump did bring up the issue of arming teachers, and he did it with a nuance he won't be given credit for: calling for the arming of teachers who are capable and willing to be armed and for whom arming is appropriate.  He didn't say arm all teachers.  He recognized that for a lot of us, being armed with guns in the classroom is absolutely out of the question.

I taught nine-year-olds.  Where would I put a gun for easy reach when, in that one-out-of-a-million chance that it's needed against a gunman?  My desk drawer?  My purse?  I guarantee you, the nine-year-olds would eventually find it.  My person?  When I am frolicking around with the kids in some dancy game where it can be tripped off?  Don't think so.  Teaching is a major responsibility where one not only must impart knowledge, but have control of the classroom – two difficult things right there to balance.  The only way to get it right is to be absolutely prepared with the lesson, both in knowledge and in materials.  I constantly toted tons of material to class to make sure every classroom need, from my own rehearsed script of the lesson to textbooks to music to art materials to first aid to extra quizzes and puzzles for rebel kids to maps to globes to posters and placards to game pieces to snacks for everyone, was met and ready.  Having a gun added to that is just unthinkable.  A gun is a major responsibility, not some small detail.  It's one that requires utmost care and attention, and it's absolutely out of the question for many if not most teachers to have to include that as an extra responsibility and worry about it, too.  It's asking too much, given the demands and attention required of teaching.  There may be exceptions where arming teachers is appropriate, and those exceptions should be respected – some rural teachers, some inner city teachers – but it's just not right for most teachers whose mission is to focus hard on teaching as a primary mission.

What I am getting at is that this is why we have armed guards.  Teachers most certainly should know and have defensive contingency plans such as self-locking class doors and escape plans, but the most appropriate front line of defense is a dedicated armed guard.  The guard focuses on protection.  The teachers focus on teaching.

This is why the guard the Parkland school had is such a sorry affair.  Seriously, the guy, Scot Peterson, was paid to protect and defend the students from just such an attack, and he didn't.  He was supposed to have given everyone peace of mind so that teaching could go on.  That he didn't was a miserable failure.

And that isn't the half of it.  Apparently, he was just some sort of time-server.  According to the Daily Beast's Scott Bixby:

There are arguments that asking anyone to put his life on the line is asking too much, and in some ways, it is.  After all, those who were honored for doing so deserve all the honors they get for going above and beyond the call of duty, such as the three young ROTC students, at least one of whom died in uniform protecting his fellow classmates.  That would be Peter Wang, who was appropriately honored by West Point for his heroism here.  And yes, it was West Point's privilege to have him, not the other way around.

Heroism is special.  It's not a nine-to-five job.

David A. French has a decent take on this on his Twitter account

The bottom line is that if someone has a job that calls for heroism, he needs to be up to it.  If he isn't, well, there are thousands of well paid desk jobs, even in law enforcement, just as available to him as the guard's job.  Any argument that you can't require someone to risk his life is weak, if the actual job is to risk his life.  Employment is always a personal choice.  If you don't want to be a hero, you take a desk job, not the school protector's job.  Firemen are paid to run toward the flames, not away from them, and they have a culture of being heroic.  Someone who didn't would be a pariah in the firefighting world.  Secret Service agents are paid to protect the president, with their lives if necessary.  Why should they exist as an organization if they can't be trusted to do that?  Where would we be if one of them had Peterson's self-protection-first ethic?  Even computer security personnel are similarly situated in the need to be prepared.  They get fired if they fail to protect companies against attack, because that's their job – tons of boredom until a crisis breaks out.

Peterson's job, his one job, was to protect the school.  It wasn't to be a time-server.  The money paid for his salary was money paid for nothing.  Now he's doing the fat donut-cop thing and retiring, presumably on a bloated pension, while the families of the dead are left to pick up the pieces.

This is why it's such a shameful failure that this guy thought of his own hide first, given the job nobody made him take.  People depended on him.  That needs to be an issue as the debate about how to prevent these incidents goes on.  Maybe there ought to be some lawsuits, given the fraudulent holding of this job by a guy who didn't want to defend others.  If guards can't be depended on as the first line of school defense, who can?

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