The state commission tasked with investigating the tragic Parkland school shooting, which left 17 people dead, unanimously approved its comprehensive 458-page report Wednesday, and it’s causing a stir. Among its most notable recommendations is that trained teachers should be allowed to carry weapons on campus and internal investigations should be opened into multiple deputies under Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
The report, produced by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, puts the onus on school districts, law enforcement agencies, and state leaders to implement effective reforms in schools to better protect students from future tragedies. After being formally approved by the commission Wednesday, the report passes to state leaders, including newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Sun Sentinel, which has been tracking the investigation closely, provides a summary of the key findings and recommendations of the report, which “addresses the cascade of errors revealed in the wake of the shooting, including fumbled tips, lax school security policies and unaggressive Broward sheriff’s deputies who hung back as shots were fired.”
Among the dozens of recommendations in the report is the proposal that some teachers be allowed to carry guns on campus after going through extensive training. The commission is also calling for the increase in spending on school security measures and recommends changes to laws in order to provide school districts the ability to increase taxes to pay for some of those measures.
Concerning the commission’s proposal to arm some teachers, the commission chair, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, blasted those who pushed back on it for ideological reasons. “So what are we saying to people — we’re not going to allow you to defend yourself, we’re not going to allow you to defend the kids — why? Because of some ideology that we don’t like guns?” he said, the Sun Sentinel reports. “Anyone who thinks they’re going to get rid of guns is crazy. It isn’t going to happen. We’ve got to do something differently and people should be able to protect themselves.”
Regarding the Broward County deputies, the commission called on the office to “conduct an internal review of seven deputies who arrived during the shooting but appeared to fail to even attempt to take effective action.” The report noted that internal investigations into two of the deputies have been opened thus far.
The commission’s findings on the actions of Sheriff Israel and his deputies prompted the Sun Sentinel editorial board to publish a lengthy editorial last week declaring that they now agree with Republicans who have been calling for the firing of the sheriff for his egregious mishandling of the tragedy.
“We’ve suggested all along that people hold their fire until more details are known,” they write. “But after seeing the damning details in the commission’s draft report — and Israel’s troubling testimony — we cannot encourage the governor-elect to wait and let voters decide the sheriff’s fate in 2020.”
“Israel’s supporters say the only reason the sheriff finds himself in the political crosshairs is because he stood up to the NRA at a CNN Town Hall after the shooting, and had a terrible interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper,” they wrote. “But that’s not it at all. The issue is public safety, the sheriff’s paramount duty. And on his two biggest tests — the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas — Israel has come up short. Worse, the sheriff fails to accept responsibility for things that have gone wrong, instead suggesting that things couldn’t have been better. If he fails to acknowledge that mistakes were made — not only by individuals, but by his command — how can we expect a better outcome next time?”