What should we do when those we hire to “protect and serve” fail to protect?
The Florida deputy who failed to confront a gunman during last year’s Parkland massacre has been arrested on 11 charges, prosecutors said Tuesday. Scot Peterson, 56, faces child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury charges, State Attorney Mike Satz said in the announcement.
Peterson, then a Broward County deputy, was on duty during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but never went inside. Satz said the charges carry a combined prison sentence of nearly 100 years. Peterson’s bail was set at $102,000. Once released, Peterson will be required to wear a GPS monitor and surrender his passport, and will be prohibited from possessing a firearm, the prosecutor said.
Peterson, the only armed officer at the school the day of the attack, was seen on video remaining outside the school building as shots rang out.
Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, said in a statement his client could not be prosecuted on child neglect, negligence charges because he was not a “caregiver” of the students, which he defined as a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
He said, “the State’s actions appear to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson as no other individual employed at the Broward Sheriff’s Office or Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School has been criminally charged.”
There are a lot of people applauding this news. I’m gonna be a contrarian and say I’m not so sure about criminalizing cowardice. Was Peterson’s inaction despicable? Definitely. Should he have been fired? Oh, you betcha.
In the military, cowardice in the face of the enemy can get you a date with a firing squad, but that law has rarely been enforced. Putting a man on trial because he was scared shitless seems unfair.
As these nutball mass shootings have a regular occurrence in the past couple of decades, police response policies have changed. The police used to respond by setting up a perimeter to keep the shooter(s) contained, and then waited for a SWAT unit to enter and engage the shooter. This allowed the shooters to keep killing while the cops waited.
The newer policies (including the one in effect at Parkland) require the cops to enter and engage the shooter immediately. What Peterson did was basically follow the old policy.
It takes a special kind of person to be a cop. Cops are expected to run toward danger, not away from it. A cop without courage is a waste of tax dollars.
Don’t be surprised to see police unions defend Peterson.