Parkland Shooting Investigation: State Commission Issues Final Report
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The state commission investigating the Parkland school shooting unanimously approved a tough final report Wednesday that puts the responsibility for reform on school districts, law enforcement agencies, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, and state legislative leaders.
The 446-page report addresses the cascade of errors revealed in the wake of the shooting, including fumbled tips, lax school security policies, and unaggressive sheriff’s deputies who hung back as shots were fired. The report now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, DeSantis, and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
Despite the traumatic impact of the massacre, which claimed 17 lives, the report says many entities such as school districts have been slow to make changes.
“Even after the shooting and the implementation of new Florida law requiring certain safety measures, there remains non-compliance and a lack of urgency to enact basic safety principles in Florida’s K-12 schools,” the report says. “All stakeholders—school districts, law enforcement, mental health providers, city and county governments, funding entities, etc.—should embrace the opportunity to change and make Florida schools the safest in the nation. There must be a sense of urgency—and there is not, across-the-board—in enhancing school safety.”
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission consists of law enforcement officers, public officials, and parents of the murdered students. The commission met over eight months, examining what went wrong, taking testimony from witnesses, and going over the results of the work of its own investigators.
Max Schachter, a member of the commission whose 14-year-old son Alex was killed in the attack, thanks his fellow commissioners, Chairman Bob Gualtieri, and the commissioner’s investigators for a “tremendous job” in a short period of time.
“The 17 families wanted to get to the bottom of what happen on Feb. 14,” he said. “And I think that we’ve done that.”
The report is not the commission’s final act.
“The commission’s effort is far from complete; all areas require further investigation and recommendations, which the Commission will continue to work on in 2019,” the report said. The commission itself is empaneled until 2023.
“This Commission will continue to proffer recommendations and findings as our work continues. We will not wait, we will be vigilant and we, like the Legislature, expect compliance and change with urgency,” it said.
The commission’s work already has produced results. The Broward Sheriff’s Office changed its active-shooter policy from one that said deputies “may” confront the shooter to one that says they “shall.” The Sheriff’s Office also opened internal investigations into a deputy and a sergeant after the commission’s investigation found they failed in their duties that day.
The report recommends allowing teachers to carry guns if they go through a selection process that includes training and background checks. The change would require the state Legislature's approval.
Under current law, school systems can arm certain school employees, such as security guards, administrators, or librarians.
The Broward school district transferred four Stoneman Douglas administrators last month, after the commission’s draft report found they missed warning signs about the killer and ignored warnings about security deficiencies, such as unguarded gates and a lack of training on emergency lockdown procedures.
The commission was established last year under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, passed by the state Legislature in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 students and staff and injured 17 others.
The report opens with pictures of the 17 students and staff killed in the attack, with homages to each of them.