Elder Patriot – Detective Jeffrey Gilbert and Detective Carl Schlosser, members of the Miramar SWAT team, were given temporary suspensions after rushing to Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. when the active shooter call came over their radios because they had not asked for permission to do so.
Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano characterized Gilbert and Schlosser’s actions:
“While it may have been a violation of policy to not notify their supervisors that they were going there, their intentions were brave and heroic, I think.”
He’s right of course. In the great tradition of first responders throughout history, these brace men raced towards the fire while everyone was running away. And, they were punished for doing so.
The officials in charge have a different view.
According to an official police department spokesperson, because the officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting their actions created an officer safety issue and left them unaccountable for their actions.
That would make them no more “unaccountable” than Stephen Willeford was after he heard gunfire coming from a nearby church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Willeford grabbed his rifle and ran barefoot to the church where he took up position behind a pickup truck and then engaged the shooter.
Willeford was hailed as a hero for having saved lives that day.
To be certain, the official police position gives voice to legitimate concerns but any discussion must begin with the realization that any response cannot prevent some deaths from occurring. The goal from the beginning must be to minimize those deaths.
And, the official policy of waiting and setting up a perimeter instead of bull-rushing the shooter raises more questions than it answers.
Take, for instance, the response to the Jan. 6, 2017, shootings at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when over 2,000 cops responded to the original report of gunfire, according to a report obtained from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Five people were killed and six others wounded in that rampage.
Compare that to the “measured” response to the Parkland rampage where seventeen people were killed and 14 others were wounded.
While the hysteria that resulted from 2000 law enforcement officers descending from all directions and without coordination resulted in its own set of problems, the limited number of casualties speaks for itself.
Jim Bueermann is the president of the Police Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based police research organization that analyzes the efficacy of police response tactics. Bueermann said:
“Police officers have an inherent bias for action, and the minute they hear there’s a violent incident underway their immediate inclination is to go to it and try to stop the violence that is occurring. And we want that in police officers. The problem is being able to channel that.”
Clearly, taking up position outside and waiting while shooter Nikolas Cruz emptied magazine after magazine failed to protect those vulnerable students.
That much was acknowledged when the school’s armed resource officer, Scot Peterson, was fired for doing exactly that and then labeled a coward by Sheriff Scott Israel.
So which is it?
The idea that planning for an event like this can minimize the loss of life defies the first rule of war that tells us all the plans go out the window after the first shot is fired.
There is only one thing that can minimize the carnage once an active shooting situation begins and that is to minimize the time the shooter has before he is neutralized. And that takes men and women with the courage to put themselves in danger.
Any plan that doesn’t take that into account isn’t a plan to save the lives of the innocents. If the police are armed and are told not to enter the scene what chance do our unarmed children and teachers have?