By: Jen Russon
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has now changed its response to active shooters in direct response to the findings adopted this month by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
A lengthy report detailing the changes was accompanied by a letter from Sheriff Israel to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the Public Safety Commission.
Israel’s new policies will include an updated list of priorities that cite only rare exceptions to the rule that deputies are to protect the life of innocent people in a four-step process: stopping the active assailant, rescuing the victims, providing medical assistance, and arresting suspects and preserving the crime scene.
Prior to February 14, BSO’s active shooter police was “may intervene”. Now, it will be changed to “shall”.
These changes come after the commission finished up its initial report for the state legislature. The public safety commission was formed after the February 14 shooting to analyze information from that tragic day, as well as study shootings and other mass violent incidents throughout Florida.
The commission made headlines last month when Sheriff Gualtieri came out in support of arming teachers and other school personnel. The eight page document attached to Israel’s letter does not address this; however, it does specify that active shooter and rescue task force training hours have been increased for over 1,000 deputies.
Going forward, the Broward County School Board will grant BSO real‐time access during emergencies, via live camera feeds. Additionally, there will be a threat assessment unit, and an internal Marjory Stoneman Douglas review committee, responsible for implementing all the commission’s suggestions.
Israel named BSO Colonel Jack Dale as the chair of the internal committee, concluding the letter with assurances that this is not the end of the process.
“Be assured, the reforms adopted to date are not the end of this process. Rather, they are a midway point,” Israel wrote.
Ryan Petty, who sits on the safety panel commission and is the father of 14-year-old victim Alaina Petty, called for Israel to resign, noting it was Israel’s policy that allowed several deputies to choose to remain outside the school during the shooting.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas public safety commission is expected to approve a 400-page report of findings and recommendations by January 1.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.