Dual dispatch system delayed authorities getting timely info during Parkland shooting, chair says

Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission meets Wednesday to discuss 911 system

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

SUNRISE, Fla. - The 15-member Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission met Wednesday to discuss communication problems that arose the day of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland. 

The commission looked into how 911 calls were handled and how law enforcement officials communicated with each other. 

Broward County's 911 system and a perceived breakdown in communications between law enforcement the day of the massacre was the focus of the meeting in Sunrise. 

The Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission analyzed Broward's use of a countywide dispatch system and one in Plantation and Coral Springs. 

"Our phone system was actually upgraded the morning of the massacre, so the files are very -- I'll just say -- commingled," Coral Springs police Deputy Chief Shawn Backer said.   

Some 911 calls made in Parkland the day of the shooting were routed to Coral Springs before being transferred to the county. As a result, some calls never made it to the Broward Sheriff's Office, whose deputies responded to the school. 

"If they get on the same system and are under one roof, it would eliminate that, but still allow Coral Springs and Plantation to have the autonomy of dispatching their own officers," commission chair Bob Gualtieri, who is also the sheriff of Pinellas County, said. 

Coral Springs' deputy police chief said having their own system comes down to efficiency and a "hometown" feel to how calls are handled. 

"After five months, they haven't done an accounting of figuring out how many calls were transferred to BSO," Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, was killed in the shooting, said. "I know what the answer is, but I want them to admit it to me. It's unacceptable."

Backer said they hope to have a final breakdown of calls they handled and transferred sometime next week. 

The commission will take a look at the gunman's mental health records on Thursday in a closed session. 

 

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