Anti-gun Policies Cost Lives In Florida

01

It has been a little more than a week since the horrific shooting in Parkland, FL and as more becomes known about what lead up to that shooting, it is proving itself to be a tragically perfect example of government’s total failure, in fact it’s inability to keep people safe.  Getting beyond the mistakes that were made by multiple agencies on many levels, getting beyond the cowardice of one or more responding cops, we need to look at another aspect of this horrible incident.  Since so many people from students to school administrators, to the Sheriff of Broward County, all the way up to lawmakers on the federal level are screaming for more gun control, let’s take a close look at the effect that existing gun policies played in this incident.

Since Sheriff Scott Israel has seen fit to very publicly scream for gun control himself, and done so in the most unprofessional manner I can imagine, ripping into people who disagrees with his point of view like an emotional teenager, all on national television, so I’ll start with him.  Broward County Sheriff’s Office is a very large Sheriff’s department with, according to their website, more than 5,800 employees (includes sworn and non-sworn).  Their annual budget is $730M.  That is a very big local department by almost any standard.

Would it surprise you to find out that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office does not issue rifles to their patrol cops?  It sure as hell surprised me!  What year is this?  In this day and age, it is practically criminal to not supply your street cops with a rifle.  (Broward deputies can buy their own rifle if they desire, but the department does not issue them.)

I thought the North Hollywood Bank Robbery in 1997 taught us all that cops needed long guns?  I would think that all of the recent mass shooting incidents that our news media sees fit to talk about 24/7 for weeks on end would have taught us all that.  I would think that all of the changes in training and tactics for law enforcement over the last 20+ years would have taught us all that.  But apparently none of that got through to Scott Israel, since he refuses to issue rifles to his street cops.

Now, before anyone jumps up and claims I have no idea what is involved in providing rifles to an entire department, let me assure you I do.  I happen to work for a large agency, although not as large as Broward County, and I have worked in an administrative position on my department where my job was providing equipment for all of our patrol deputies.  I understand perfectly the difficulties in providing equipment for a large agency.  And yes, it is a much different beast than providing tools for a smaller agency.  Buying 10 of something is much different than buying 500, or 1,000 of the same thing.  I understand perfectly that there is a significant cost in trying to put a rifle in every patrol officer’s hands, EXCEPT THERE IS NOT!  The Broward County Sheriff could get all the rifles they want from the Federal 1033 program for FREE!  Zero, nada, nothing.   Instead the man in charge, the man with whom the buck stops, Sheriff Scott Israel chose not to put rifles in the hands of his deputies, but why?

There is only one reason that can explain why Sheriff Israel would make the conscious decision to not issue rifles to his troops,  and that is because Israel allowed his personal anti-gun agenda to cloud his judgement.  His personal gun control ideals influenced how he equipped his cops, and those ideals kept the necessary tools out of the hands of the men and women who most desperately needed those tools last week.

Disturbingly, Sheriff Israel is not the only policy maker who allowed his feelings about guns to cloud his judgement.  The school administration is also to blame.  If you doubt a school administration would allow their personal opinions about firearms to influence their policy making, I have some bad news for you, and a bridge to sell you.

meet-the-board_3

I spoke with a friend who works for one of the local agencies there in Florida and asked about why the school cops did not have rifles.  Turns out, the school administrators and school board actively prevented the law enforcement officers who are assigned to the schools from having a rifle on campus.   The local agencies approached the schools about placing gun safes in the school cop’s office, in which the cop could secure his rifle from his car, if he even had one, so it would be near him in the event of an emergency.  The school district administration flat out refused to allow that.  You know, because a cop carrying a rifle into an office and locking it up is super ultra mega scary and we cannot have high school kids seeing a cop carrying a long gun, or something like that.

So what that policy means in the real world is that the school cop responding to an incident on campus is required to assess the situation and determine if a rifle is needed, and make a choice on limited information:  go to the scene or to my car and get my rifle.  Most times that would mean going to the scene sans long gun, evaluating the situation and if a rifle is needed, returning to your car to get it, rather than just taking it from the office with you initially.  How on Earth does that make sense to anyone?  If schools had a firefighter located on campus, would they prevent them from having a fire extinguisher in their office?

Lastly, the delusional myth that calling anything a “gun free zone” somehow protects anyone is beyond me.  How does anyone in their right mind think that putting a sign up is going to stop someone from doing something that they want to do, especially if what that person wants to do is already illegal?  Do speed limit signs prevent speeding, anywhere, ever?  Rather than declaring a location a “gun free zone,” why not instead enact laws that simultaneously, harshly punish people who illegally bring a gun onto a school campus, but that also allow people who have gone to all the trouble to obtain a concealed carry permit to have their firearm, including teachers and other school personnel if they so desire.  Nationally, concealed carry license holders are the single most law abiding group of people there is, even more law abiding than law enforcement.  Why would you intentionally prevent potential help from having the single most needed tool in a crisis situation where every second counts, and every second means another life lost?  I cannot fathom the amount of delusion and denial that is necessary to not grasp this simple fact.

It is clear to me as a career cop that two factors combined together which allowed these horrible policies to be created.  The first factor is a irrational dislike of firearms and the second is denial.  The only way to explain a Sheriff refusing to give his patrol cops free rifles is his extreme anti-gun agenda, which he has espoused nearly non-stop since this incident.  The only way to explain a school not wanting officers to have long guns available on campus is their dislike and/or fear of firearms.  The other factor, denial, is also clear to anyone with law enforcement experience.  These administrators, both the Sheriff and the school, were in denial that an incident like this tragic shooting could ever happen.  It is clear from the policies they put in place.  If they had faced the sad reality that something like this could happen, they would have issued the proper tools and would have established policies that helped first responders, not hindered them.

Sadly, this incident is chock full of screw ups, balls dropped, bad decision making, bad policy, and sadly, one or more cowardly cops who failed to do what we took an oath to do.  There is much to be learned from this shooting.  Two of the biggest takeaways in my opinion are 1) policies derived from anti-gun opinions do nothing to keep anyone safe, and 2) if you are counting on government to keep you safe, as much as the vast majority of cops really do try, you are betting on the wrong horse.

—————————————–
This piece can also be found at Full30.com and The Daily Caller

Failure To Engage That Cost Innocent Kids Their Lives

Image source: Washington Examiner
Image source: Washington Examiner

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?

02

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.

01

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.

Ayala Vehicle Stop a Huge “Nothing Burger”

According to the news reports, on June 19th (nearly a month ago), two Florida cops performed a vehicle stop on a car occupied by Florida’s State’s Attorney Aramis Ayala.  The reason for the stop, as stated by the officers in the video, and confirmed by their department, is that they had run the license plates on her car through DMV on their computer and there was no record for the plates in the DMV computer system.  The officers, at least in all the versions of the video that I have seen, are polite and friendly to Ms. Ayala, who coincidentally is obviously perturbed and asked for the officer’s information.

The video of this stop was released a few days ago and since it was released, certain people’s heads are exploding.  The allegations that the stop was racially motivated are being thrown around like crazy.  Some people, namely those who have not the slightest clue about cop work, are straight freaking out over this.

Let’s watch the stop in its entirety.

So, let’s compare that traffic stop above to another one from a quite a number of years ago.  A CHP officer runs the plate on a mint green 1995 Ford Thunderbird, one that looks like it has seen better days, and has dark tinted windows.  The plate comes back not on file.  The CHP officer initiates a vehicle stop and the driver, me, a pale white guy, is contacted.  The CHP officer was polite and friendly, as was I, and once the CHP officer confirmed that the vehicle and license plates were not stolen and there was a legitimate reason the plates did not show up in DMV’s computer (it was an undercover cop car), we parted ways, and that was the end of it.  Which is exactly what should have happened in this case, but sadly that is not what is happening.

Folks, the media is playing you.  Just look at the incendiary headlines regarding this nothing of an incident.

  • Policeman pulls over black woman and quickly discovers she is the state attorney (Independent.co.uk)
  • Florida state attorney pulled over in traffic stop that goes nowhere fast (CNN)
  • Black Florida State Attorney Pulled Over in Traffic Stop, Prompting Criticism (NBC)
  • BLACK WHILE DRIVING: FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY STOPPED BY POLICE IN VIRAL VIDEO (Newswek)
  • VIDEO: Orlando police officers struggle to explain why they pulled over State Attorney Aramis Ayala (Orlando Weekly)
  • Florida Cops Goof In Pulling Over Black Female State Attorney For Garbage Reasons (HipHopWired)
  • VIDEO: State Attorney Aramis Ayala Racially Profiled By Orlando Police? (Florida National News)

This vehicle stop is a HUGE NOTHING!  Absolutely nothing about this traffic stop is remotely newsworthy, nothing.  And despite many of the articles, no one was scrambling to explain why they stopped her.  They very clearly stated the reason, a very legit reason.

For those of you who have no idea what we do, cops run license plates all day long.  We run them while we are driving to calls, we run them while we are driving to dinner, and sometimes we run them while we are heading to the station near the end of shift, but not as often then.   It is how we find stolen cars, wanted persons, verify registrations are current and valid, and many other things.  Not only is it legal to do that, it is actually part of our job and we are expected to do it.

In the case of Ms. Ayala’s stop, these cops ran her plate and it came back not on file.  There are many reasons why a license plate might not be in the DMV computer system, and only one of them is legal (the situation encountered in both previously mentioned vehicle stops).  Other reasons (the illegal ones) would be that the plates are counterfeit, of which there are many ways to fake this, or they could be very old plates that are no longer in the system and do not belong on the car.

In cop work, when a plate comes back not on file, we call that a clue, which usually prompts us to investigate why the license plate is not in DMV’s records, which is exactly what the cops in both of the vehicle stops previously mentioned did.  A stop was conducted, the driver was contacted, the vehicle and license plates were confirmed to be legit, and the drivers were released.  Everything occurred exactly as it should.  The only difference was one of the drivers (not me) got upset about being stopped and asked for the officer’s names and other information (insinuating that she is going to file a complaint).

Some people are insinuating she was stopped because she was black.  Was I stopped because I was white?  If she was stopped for being black (which she wasn’t), why were the cops so polite to her?

Come on folks, not everything is racist!  Stop looking for racism where there is none.  You are not fixing things, you are making them worse!