By Steve Hunley
The shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was terrible enough, but if it is possible, it is worse still due to a complete breakdown in the entire governmental system. The failures encompass chiefly law enforcement agencies, but there is evidence there was a failure with social services and the school district. Perhaps the worst failure was the cowardice of Deputy Scot Peterson’s refusal to enter the school building while youngsters were being gunned down inside. Evidently, there were three other Broward County deputies or law enforcement officers who refused to enter the school, which is simply mind-numbing.
Were that the only failure on the part of law enforcement, that would be horrible enough, but unfortunately it was not. Apparently the Palm Beach and Broward County Sheriff’s offices received no less than eighteen complaints about shooter Nikolas Cruz. Reports indicate most of those complaints involved weapons, as well as threats of violence. Over a period of seven years, officers visited the home of Nikolas Cruz thirty-nine times.
The Department of Children and Families in Florida opened a file on Cruz’s desire to purchase a gun, but eventually concluded he was a “low risk.” The FBI received a tip that Cruz owned a gun and had a desire to harm or kill people. The FBI was made aware of Cruz’s disturbing posts on social media, as well as his stranger behavior. That tip came the first week of January. The FBI failed to share the information with its local field office. An even more disturbing warning came from the blogger in Mississippi who reported Nikolas Cruz’s statement he intended to become “a professional school shooter.” While FBI agents visited the blogger, they dropped the matter because the blogger knew nothing else about Nikolas Cruz.
Broward County schools employ “restorative justice” programs, which provide counseling and various social services instead of reporting behaviors such as assault, bullying, and drug abuse to law enforcement agencies. Obviously those programs did not work for Nikolas Cruz. Yet he certainly did come to the attention of the school system. Some teachers’ reputedly banned Cruz from their classrooms due to his excessively bad behavior. His anti-social behavior began while he was attending middle school and persisted throughout his high school years. Cruz was disciplined twenty-five times and sent to an alternative school for a spell.
Naturally, Nikolas Cruz’s behavior was noticed by his fellow students and they did not ignore it. One young lady repeatedly tried to warn school officials of Cruz’s constant talk about murdering other students and their parents; selling knives at school and displaying pictures of his personal arsenal.
The failure upon the part of law enforcement, social services and the school system was complete. Each entity failed the students and families in Parkland. In the end, the students and families paid a terrible price for those repeated failures.
Americans have a frustrating and unfortunate habit of becoming proactive after the fact. Citizens need to be vigilant before the fact and we ought to insist that our school security systems work; we need to demand that no one bureaucrat be able to unilaterally make so vital a decision; we must require that threats be properly investigated; and we must stand firm in our belief there must be real consequences for unacceptable behavior. There is no amount of “restorative justice” that will restore the lost lives and shattered families in Parkland. Nor is there any justice for the students and families left devastated by a system that seemed to dismiss Nikolas Cruz as little more than an oddball.