By now, you may have seen the breaking news stories about how the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy who was assigned as a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL failed engage the gunman for 4-6 minutes. Initially, I was angry and disgusted when I heard this, but I took a minute to gather myself. I mean how often has the media gotten things wrong about how we do our jobs? For all I knew, it could have been a 4-6 minute response time and they were taking it out of context in an attempt to make the cops look bad, but the media would never intentionally try to make cops look bad would they?
Since I personally know someone who responded to this horrific scene, I reached out to him. Not only did he confirm that the Broward deputy waited outside for an extended period of time, he said that the first responding officers (not counting the Broward SRO in question) ran right past him and he still did not move.
I’m sorry, but this sorry excuse for a cop MUST be fired! (Update: Sadly, he resigned before they could fire him.) This deputy’s failure to engage, their total failure to do their single most important job as an SRO, to save the lives of the students who have been entrusted to you, cost innocent children their lives! I am beyond disgusted. Cops around this country took their SRO assignments for a variety of reasons, and only some of them were for the right reason. The right reason is to make a difference in the lives of the students, and God forbid, when that nightmare scenario unfolds and some psycho nutjob with a gun attacks the school, they are the first and immediate line of defense. That is the job they signed up for, whether or not it was the reason they took the job.
To all of the other SRO’s out there, no matter what city, state or agency you work for, you best look deep inside yourself right effing now and figure out if you can do your job when it counts the most. When the time comes, are you going to saddle up, strap on that rifle and go to work, or are you going puss out and cower somewhere waiting for other real cops to show up and do your job? If you are in the second group, please do ALL the other cops a favor and find a new line of work before you get someone killed.
To those of you who find yourself in the first group, let this incident be a solemn reminder that bad shit can and does happen, and we never know when or where it might strike. Be prepared, always. Train, train often and train hard. Take all the active shooter training you can get. Take your firearm training seriously, and take a lot of it. Don’t just be proficient with your handgun and your rifle, master the shit out of them! Take combat first aid classes. There are lots of places that put it on, and some even supply you with a high quality military spec medic bag when you take them. The kids and staff at your school are counting on you to keep them safe, and the rest of us in uniform are counting on you to represent us, your blue family, like a professional.
I have no idea how this particular SRO is going to be able to live with himself. If that were me, and I knew my failure to engage cost someone their life, let alone a bunch of innocent kids, I cannot imagine the mental torture I would be putting myself through. No matter how they decide to deal with this, they should absolutely no longer be allowed to wear a badge. They have failed their employer, they have failed our profession, they have failed the country and most importantly, they failed their kids, some of whom would still be alive if they had done their job.
To everyone who has been touched by this incident, I know I speak for quite a few cops when I say on behalf of law enforcement, I apologize for this deputy’s failure to engage that cost the lives of innocent children.