Did Sheriff’s deputies in Broward County Florida hide from the threat of a school shooter while he murdered kids and their teachers on Valentines Day? That is the heartbreaking question everyone is coming to terms with. Soon after the Valentines Day massacre in Parkland Florida we learned one officer, Scot Peterson took cover for at least four minutes while Nikolas Cruz was murdering 17 people inside Stoneman High School. Peterson was quickly placed on leave when it was revealed that he hid instead of going in to save those being gunned down. The next day he resigned and other officers were posted at his home for his protection. It is a sickening irony.

Today Scott Israel, the Sheriff for Broward County is under intense pressure to step down after new reports indicate several of his deputies also failed to confront the teenaged shooter while he was unloading more than 100 rounds into innocent people. Israel says he will not go but Florida Governor Republican Rick Scott does have the authority to fire the Sheriff. So far that hasn’t happened either.

Governor Scott has a bigger responsibility to the citizens of Florida and must fire Israel immediately.

It is fair to say the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and many of its deputies failed to protect or serve the people they were charged with keeping safe. What faith can this community have in its Sheriffs Department if those that are supposed to be their to protect them shrink from that responsibility in the face of danger? I would suggest the failure by multiple deputies to confront the killer during his rampage is no different than a soldier deserting his post during a firefight. When several deputies did not step up in a time of dire need it demonstrated an overwhelming failure of leadership. This cannot be allowed to stand. Again, Sheriff Israel must be fired.

The deputies of course have these jobs because they wanted them. Nobody forced the men and women of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department to follow that career path. Nobody forced them to be the keepers of the peace it was something they apparently wanted to do. They pursued those jobs and all took an oath to protect the citizens there. They failed to do so. I don’t think Scot Peterson should be alone if others also failed to do their duty. Any other deputies that failed to protect the students and staff at Stoneman High School should resign or be fired by the newly appointed Sheriff.

The first law enforcement officers to enter the school were police officers from Coral Springs. Those officers reported at least four Broward County deputies that were outside but not willing to go inside. According to other news reports, those four deputies remained outside even after the Coral Springs officers went inside.

Some in the media and those using the attack to fuel an anti-gun agenda have suggested the deputies that failed to move in to stop Cruz were perfectly fine to do so. I reject that notion outright. I will not be party to the normalization of cowardice on behalf of law enforcement that is tasked with keeping the schools safe.

I along with all Americans have witnessed great heroism at great personal cost our entire lives. We know the stories of the firefighters, police officers and first responders going up the Twin Towers while everyone else was evacuating. We know that scores of them died there on 9-11. We have seen acts of heroism on the battlefields of the Middle East and watched heros step up to help in the face of hurricanes, floods and dangers of every sort. That’s why this kind of failure is so shocking to me and to so many more.

The people of Broward County deserve better from their Sheriff’s Department. The 17 people killed by a murderous maniac certainly deserved better. We will never know how many of them may have lived if the deputies had not hidden outside and had instead acted with bravery and purpose. I hope that this deeply troubling failure to act is not a wider problem and is a very rare occurrence.

Two officers I know well say they would have acted much differently and would have without question gone in and headed toward the shooter. I believe them and hope anyone who wants to serve and protect knows there may come a day that will test their mettle and challenge their will to stand tall. Please, if you are faint of heart do not apply.

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