Fred LaSor: Reviewing law enforcement failures
Legitimate questions are being asked about local law enforcement and the FBI in light of repeated failures to discharge their duty, protect the public, and follow proper procedure. The most recent is the ineptitude of the Broward County Sheriff following the shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School.
The sheriff and emergency personnel at the 911 office repeatedly failed to act on warnings the shooter-to-be, Nikolas Cruz, was exhibiting the classic symptoms of a troubled youth who was destined for major problems with the law: threatening authority figures, harming pets, and cutting himself. Even his adoptive parents reported him to the FBI and local sheriff, all of whom concluded he wasn’t a real threat.
There are reports Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and school authorities made a conscious decision several years ago to arrest fewer student law-breakers so public safety statistics would show improvement. That effort, called PROMISE, was supposed to keep youngsters out of the penal system by refusing to arrest them for “unimportant” crimes. In Cruz’s case, the unimportant crimes continued to escalate and even CNN’s Jake Tapper was moved to ask Israel how Cruz could’ve been investigated so many times with no intervention taking place. And we all remember the Broward County deputies waiting outside until another agency responded to the shooting.
Real Clear Politics’ Editor Carl Cannon reports Israel dropped the ball just more than a year earlier, resulting in a U.S. Army veteran shooting up the Fort Lauderdale Airport’s baggage claim area, killing five and wounding six. He too had visited a FBI field office in an apparent plea for help, with no subsequent action.
The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting resulted in total chaos on the part of authorities, where first responders blocked traffic for hours, including of their own follow-on units, and reportedly were leaderless for most of a day. This despite the fact the incident was over and the shooter taken into custody in less than two minutes.
I’ve taken courses on incident management and have great respect for emergency response teams who can constitute themselves in a short time, organize what agencies and assets are needed, where they will come from, where they’ll deploy, and the chain of command for the whole effort. Israel is a case study in what not to do during an emergency, but he manages to appear on TV early in the incident and claim he’s doing a masterful job. A county investigation following the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting reached the opposite conclusion and his attempt this time to blame the NRA rang hollow.
But the Broward County sheriff’s failure pales in comparison with the FBI’s repeated failures. The FBI failed prior to the attack on the World Trade Center towers, the Tsarnaev brothers’ bombing of the Boston marathon, the San Bernardino terrorist shootings, the Pulse night club shootings, and other notable mass casualty events. I repeat something I’ve written previously: I greatly respect the FBI and local law enforcement, but not when they allow politics to distract them from the discharge of their duties. And too many of these examples are attributable to political correctness preventing the sheriff or FBI from following tips that apparently led to Muslim terrorists, or to other groups who were being protected in response to pressure from the White House, or to an effort to protect Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The people who suffer most from these lapses, after the dead victims, are the men and women who devote themselves to a career in law enforcement. Their professionalism is tarnished for political expediency. Redeeming one’s reputation is frequently impossible.
LaSor lives in Minden and comments regularly on national politics.