Coral Springs police chief testifies before MSD Public Safety Commission

'That wasn't my jurisdiction but at the moment, it was our scene,' chief says

By Todd Tongen - Anchor/Reporter

SUNRISE, Fla. - Coral Springs Police Chief Clyde Parry testified Friday in front of the public safety commission created following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Parry's testimony focused on the chaos created at Stoneman Douglas when the Broward Sheriff's Office and Coral Springs police radio dispatchers and officers could not communicate and share information because they have different frequencies and radio equipment. 

For some reason, BSO was not prepared to patch the two systems together. 

That responsibility falls on the Office of Regional Communication and Technology, or O.R.C.A.T. -- a county agency. 

"If we were able to patch that channel immediately, we would have heard everything BSO broadcast, they would have heard everything we broadcast, and the patch failed," Parry said. "Why did the patch fail? I'm not sure. I think it is because they didn't have our frequency, our channel programed on their console."

The police chief said Coral Springs police would resist joining the county system because it is inferior and the answer is the county getting up to speed. 

That means new equipment and a large expense. 

After commission members praised the action of Coral Springs police officers, the chief talked about his frustration as his first responders arrived.

"I think it's important to understand that that wasn't my jurisdiction but at the moment, it was our scene," Parry said. "For at least a half hour or an hour, it was a Coral Springs scene. And when you look at some of the things that were done, it was done as though it was our scene. At one point, I remember being frustrated because the things that I was asking for weren't getting done and then, all of a sudden, it hit me like a sledgehammer -- this isn't my jurisdiction. No wonder these guys are looking at me like, 'Who the heck are you?'"

Chuck Massucci, of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, later gave a minute-by-minute gut-wrenching account of the horrific task of assessing the dead and wounded.

The commission also saw pictures of first responders carrying victims out of the hot zone. At one point, Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, 14, was killed at MSD, broke down, asking if they were getting the mental health counseling they need.

"I was not inside that building, but I cannot imagine," he said. "I just want to make sure they get the help they need. We thank them for everything they did."

Schachter also was concerned about law enforcements' access to live video feeds inside schools.

"(Superintendent) Robert Runcie has to let law enforcement look inside, have access to the cameras there," Schachter said. "It is unacceptable that after 17 people died, he is still refusing to do it."

The hearing wrapped up with a debate on the controversial guardian program of arming some school staff.

"Number one teacher recommendation is arm willing staff because they want to be able to keep their kids safe," commission member Lauren Book said. 

There was also more blistering criticism of Runcie and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

"These individuals must be held accountable for the failures that have occurred at their respective agencies," Tony Montalto, whose daughter, Gina, 14, was killed in the shooting, said. 

 

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