Perhaps Scot Peterson’s off the hook after all, at least legally and formally. The Broward County Sheriff’s deputy wasn’t the only law enforcement officer taking a wait-and-see approach to the massacre taking place inside Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. According to records obtained by the Miami Herald, a captain ordered BSO deputies to set up a perimeter around the school rather than enter immediately to confront the shooter, as is required by department procedures and standard practice.
In other words, it became effectively a stand-down order while shots rang out:
The Broward Sheriff’s Office captain who initially took charge of the chaotic scene at a Parkland high school where 17 people were killed told deputies to form a perimeter around the deadly scene — which they did instead of going in to confront the shooter, according to a partial BSO dispatch log obtained by the Miami Herald.
Capt. Jan Jordan, commander of BSO’s Parkland district, gave the order, the log shows, identifying her by her police call sign.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has said BSO training and nationwide active-shooter procedure call for armed law enforcement officers to confront shooters immediately rather than secure a scene.
The document raises fresh questions about the department’s handling of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
It certainly does, although those aren’t the only pressing issues about the BSO and Nikolas Cruz. It raises fresh questions about Sheriff Scott Israel’s rush to focus public attention on Peterson, too, who may or may not have been responding to Jordan’s order when deciding to hold his position rather than enter the school. Oddly, the statement from Peterson’s attorney never mentions this order from Jordan, although it certainly would help mitigate the perception of his client. Perhaps neither Peterson nor his attorney were aware of it at the time, which would tend not to mitigate Peterson’s actions.
However, it again raises serious questions about Scott Israel. The sheriff went on a media blitz after the shooting to demand gun-control legislation and point the finger everywhere else but at himself and his own department. Israel went far out of his way to hang Peterson out to dry without revealing this order from one of his department’s senior leadership. At the very least, Sheriff Israel seems to have no idea what his department was or is doing, and at the worst, he’s been deliberately distracting from its failures and their consequences.
The stand-down order at the moment of the massacre is bad enough, but that’s not the only one for which Israel’s department is responsible. Their pursuit of the Obama-era Promise program was a broad stand-down in the face of dozens of opportunities to intervene effectively with Cruz. The BSO had made forty-five calls to Cruz’ house over a few years, and the school had twenty-five separate disciplinary actions against him, including carrying bullets into the school. Other students had repeatedly warned of Cruz’ potential for violence at the school, but rather than enforce the law, Israel and BSO colluded with school superintendent Robert Runcie to ignore juvenile crime — repeatedly so in Cruz’ case — in order to make juvenile crime statistics look prettier for the Department of Education.
So yes, let’s probe the stand-down order from Captain Jordan and hold deputies responsible for their failures on February 14th. But let’s focus much more attention on the stand-down orders that had been in place for years and allowed Cruz to escape responsibility for earlier crimes, which would have prevented him from purchasing his weapons at all. And let’s make sure that Scott Israel gets removed from this equation and identified as a particularly discreditable source from this point forward, too.