It appears now-former Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson is held to be nearly as villainous as the accused school shooter he failed to confront. President Trump branded him as a coward, and a Sunday editorial here on NRO, titled “Broward’s Cowards,” lambasted him and his three still-unnamed colleagues who are reported to have remained outside the school building while the shooting continued inside. Through his attorney, Peterson has attempted to defend himself, citing the conflicting reports had received regarding the source of the gunshots.
Before I can render any judgment on Peterson’s actions or those of his colleagues, I would need to know more about what information they had received and from what sources. What was being transmitted on the police radio? Were there any fleeing students or staff members supplying information? How apparent was it that the shots were being fired in Building 12 and not, as he claims he was told, from somewhere outside?
One must credit the reports that Coral Springs police officers were upset at finding Broward County deputies taking cover outside before they themselves entered Building 12. In my experience, however, it is not uncommon for officers arriving to an incident in the second and subsequent waves to have a clearer picture of what is occurring and what ought to be done than the initial responders.
It may prove to be the case that Peterson was derelict in his conduct that day, but a big reason I’m unwilling to assume it now is the speed with which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel sought to saddle him with the blame. I went on for some length about this in a article at PJ Media, but I can summarize it here by saying Sheriff Israel has revealed himself to be a dim bulb of a political hack, one who is all too willing to heap blame on a single deputy rather than acknowledge the many failures his department made in the weeks, months, and even years leading up to the shooting. A report on Twitter, as yet unverified but easily believed, has it that the Broward County Sheriff’s Department has had no active-shooter training since 2006, this despite having experienced the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting in January 2017.
I will for the time being reserve judgment on Scot Peterson, but Sheriff Israel has already offered abundant evidence of his own incompetence and mismanagement, more which, I expect, will be exposed in the days to come.