File this one under “Didn’t see that coming!” Scot Peterson, the former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy who cowered behind a nearby building while the Parkland school shooting in Florida took place, has been arrested. And no, it wasn’t for drunk driving, soliciting a minor or some other charge unrelated to the shooting.
He was arrested specifically for failing to act while the shooting took place. This is no doubt a welcome surprise to the parents of all of the Parkland students.
Peterson has been charged with seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and a count of perjury.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting took place back in February of 2018. As the gunman marched through the school, executing 17 people and wounding 17 others, Peterson hid behind a building. As the School Resource Officer, he was the only armed person on the campus, aside from the shooter.
When responding officers started arriving at the scene, Peterson got on the radio and directed them to set up a perimeter around the school. He told the responding cops to stay back – waaaay back. There was a dangerous person with a gun on the loose! Peterson didn’t want himself or any of his fellow Broward brothers in blue to get hurt, while the madman was gunning down 17 students and teachers.
“Rot in hell Scot Peterson,” said one parent on Twitter. “You could have saved some of the 17. You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way.”
Couldn’t agree more. It’s impossible for most of us to imagine the grief those parents are going through, to this day, knowing that there was an armed deputy cowering behind the building while their kids were shot by a deranged killer.
The local police union – the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association – is unsurprisingly taking Peterson’s side. They don’t want to see any police actually held accountable for not doing their jobs.
The head of the union, Jeff Bell, claims that the charges against Peterson are political. “In order for that child negligence charge to be applicable,” says Bell, “you have to be a caretaker of the individual child. So is Deputy Peterson a caretaker of the children at the school, or is he a school resource officer assigned to that school?”
As my 93-year-old grandmother might phrase it, “What a mealy-mouthed little chicken-s**t!” (My grandma can be a little salty.)
Sorry, police, you don’t get an excuse in this case. As long as the federal and state governments determine that “we the people” do not have a God-given right to self-defense via our constitutionally protected firearms in certain areas, you are obligated to confront the mass shooters when they inevitably show up.
If the football coach, the baseball coach, the math teacher, the janitor, the nurse and a couple of other adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas had been carrying concealed sidearms, then you might – might – have an argument that it was okay for Scot Peterson to wet his pants behind a nearby building when the bullets started flying.
But if the populace is disarmed in a gun-free zone and you’re the nearest police officer, then logically you have a legal, moral and ethical duty to respond. The expectation is that you will draw your sidearm and run – don’t walk, run – to confront the shooter. We want to see some boogie in your two-step.
This is the job you signed up for as a police officer and the taxpayers are paying your salary. If you are not willing to rush in and confront a shooter as quickly as possible, then frankly, you have no business being a cop.
It’s disgusting to think that anyone would defend Peterson’s actions, especially after seeing the video of him cowering behind cover and knowing the outcome of the tragedy.
Here’s another big irony of the situation. The Florida legislature killed a bill this year that would have stripped Scot Peterson of his retirement pension. Even if Scot Peterson is convicted and goes to prison for the charges against him, the taxpayers of Florida will still be putting money in his bank account.