Commission's report puts Broward leaders' jobs on shaky ground

New petition calls for Broward School superintendent's removal

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A day after Florida's 15-member Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission released a 446-page report on last year's massacre, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is facing criticism for eliminating a requirement that his deputies confront active shooters. 

Israel told the commission he decided to do so, because he did not want his deputies to engage in suicide missions. The report says the department's policy was in direct contrast with current law enforcement practices. 

After the Feb. 14 shooting left 17 dead without a single deputy attempting to stop Nikolas Cruz as he fired his rifle through the hallways of the school building's three floors, Israel implemented reforms, including a requirement for deputies to confront shooters.

The commission sent the report, which was also critical of Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie, to Gov. Rick Scott, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature. DeSantis, who will be sworn in next Tuesday, said he is considering suspending Israel. 

The report also revealed neither the school nor the school district had clear procedures for locking down classrooms during a shooting, which the commission members believe "left students and staff vulnerable to being shot."

Despite his many accomplishments, improving metrics from graduation rates to test scores, thousands are signing a petition calling for his removal and saying that "new leadership is vital to assure that the security of our students and school personnel will never be compromised again."

The Sun-Sentinel also published a Dec. 30 editorial saying that "Runcie is not the take-charge, no-excuses leader our school district needs to bust down bureaucratic barriers, hold people accountable and build public trust that our schools are safe."

Runcie said Thursday he will not be giving in to the pressure, as he intends to keep his job and will make Broward schools safer. 

Israel couldn't be reached for comment, but on Thursday Deputy Josh Stambaugh faced to an Internal Affairs' investigation involving accusations of neglect of duty and failing to meet BSO standards.

The commission's recommendations included a controversial proposal to arm teachers who want to undergo a background check and training to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The state teachers union and PTA oppose the proposal.

The state commission's members include the fathers of Alaina Petty, 14, and Alex Schachter, 14, who were among the students to die when Cruz fired his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle into a classroom in the first floor. Other commission members include experts in law enforcement, education and mental health. 

About the Authors:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.