The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is the latest reminder of what happens in America with regularity.
The system is broken. So what else is new? While law enforcement has been focused on the flavor of the day when it comes to 21st century politically motivated and politically correct policing, the tiny cracks that exist in any system have evolved into giant crevices in American policing.
It’s as though law enforcement has lost its way and has taken a path dictated by politicians, careerists and a steady stream of risk averse novices who have taken charge of our safety.
The shooter in Florida left a path that could be seen from the space station.
Fingers can be pointed at any number of people.
No doubt the FBI employees who were the first targets in the blame game will have hell to pay. Maybe they deserve it and then again maybe they don’t.
Next comes the child welfare workers in Florida. If Florida’s child welfare system is anything like Arizona’s, it’s a complete mess even on a good day. Under paid, underfunded and overworked case workers are shoveling sand against a sea of throwaway kids the politicians long ago forgot about. Welcome to the new world of state social work.
And now we’re at the deputy sheriffs from Broward County. Did they drop the ball? Maybe? But just like the social workers, what are they to do when the system is broken and there’s no place to go with a horribly disturbed child?
The deputy on duty at the school when the shooting took place is the current grand champion in the blame game.
From TV commentators to his boss to the president, this man who could’ve and should’ve done this and that, will go down in history as the worst of the worst when it comes to blame. Is it deserved? Maybe? But I’ll let you in one of the dirty little secrets of policing, there’s plenty of officers who’d have done the same thing. Not all law enforcement officers are bigger than life John Wayne-type heroes. Charging a shooter, confronting a man with a gun or even going into the dark and unknown isn’t for everyone, including a fair share of those who wear a badge and carry a gun. I saw my fair share.
Too many officers are ill prepared physically and mentally to deal with what happened in Florida. From the photos I saw of the school officer in Florida it was obvious he was overweight, and I’ll bet out of shape. And after 10 years as a school resource officer, plenty of donuts and cookies in the teacher’s lounge and being a glorified hall monitor with a Glock, he may have very well lost any combat edge he might have had at one time?
And this brings me back to the sheriff of Broward County. The deputies involved worked for him. Just like the shooter is a product of a failed system, the deputies who look like they dropped the ball are products of his system. The failure “buck,” stops with the sheriff.
The bigger question that isn’t being talked about is are today’s police officers really ready for urban combat? The more focused question I’d ask the police chiefs in Mesa and the East Valley is are the school resource officers at the schools there as a gesture of good will and feel good intentions or are they as good as your best SWAT officers when it comes to protecting our children? As we saw in Florida mere presence of a marked police car and uniformed officer at the school didn’t deter a determined and well-prepared attacker.
– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.