PARKLAND, Fla. – A judge agreed with arbitration and ruled on Thursday that two Broward Sheriff’s Office law enforcement officers who were fired in the wake of the Parkland massacre should get their jobs back. They also should get back pay and other benefits, the judge ruled.
The head of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association applauded the decision, too, but the Broward Sheriff’s Office said they will continue to fight it.
Deputy Josh Stambaugh and Sergeant Brian Miller were fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony for failing to confront the shooter that Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The MSD commission found Miller was the first supervisor to arrive at the school, but did not make his first radio call until about seven minutes later.
Parkland parents were enraged and the sheriff’s office fought back in court when both were reinstated after arbitration.
The head of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association told Local 10 that he believes the two were being used as scapegoats. He also said that the judge’s ruling about their employment took into account that they were terminated improperly.
Jeff Bell, president of the BSO’s Deputies Association, said: “It means a lot to all of the employees, specifically Sergeant Miller and Deputy Stambaugh, which means the judge has reaffirmed two independent arbiters decisions that BSO violated their own policy, their own collective bargaining agreements, and the state law that requires them to impose final discipline within 180 days.”
Bell believes that money is a motivating factor for attorneys working for the Broward Sheriffs’ Office and who are paid by the hour. He said in a statement that they have “no interest in settling cases in the best interest for all parties involved . . .Personal profits become the motivating factor for wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.”
Attorneys representing BSO said Thursday in a statement that they will continue to fight against the two getting their jobs back and disagreed with the decision.
“The union’s claimed ‘victory’ fails to acknowledge that the union fought desperately to prevent the arbitrator from hearing the facts that justified the termination of these deputies, and that this ‘victory’ was the result of a procedural technicality, which the Sheriff’s Office maintains was wrongly decided,” the statement read. “While we await the judge’s written order, it’s important to remember that there are no victors here. There were no victors on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when Miller and Stambaugh failed to do their jobs, and it is BSO’s belief that the deputies do not deserve their jobs back . . .The judge’s ruling today is contrary to two prior decisions issued by two judges of the same court who have reviewed the union’s same alleged due process claim from exactly the same internal affairs report and ruled that BSO complied with the law. BSO believes that the arbitration process is inherently flawed, preventing law enforcement agencies from holding law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct. Nevertheless, BSO will continue to fight to uphold discipline when deputies commit misconduct on the job.”
The decision is not sitting well with some Parkland parents.
School Board member Lori Alhadeff wrote in a text that her daughter, Alyssa, and “16 others are no longer here because of failures and inactions by many, including Miller and Stambaugh. It is painful for me to once again see that there is no accountability.”