A new report indicates that as many as four Broward County deputies may have arrived at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School last week while the shooting was still taking place. The report from CNN indicates that the officers arrived on the scene but did not enter the school to confront the active shooter.
Per the report, when officers of the Coral Springs Police Department arrived on the scene, they found four deputies with guns drawn standing behind their cars. None had reportedly entered the school. The report states that the deputies directed the Coral Springs officers toward the school, but apparently did not accompany them when they entered.
The actions of the deputies reportedly has caused friction between the two departments with some Coral Springs officers considering the failure to enter the school immediately “dereliction of duty.” It is not known whether the killer was still in the school while the deputies waited outside, but it is possible that a quicker entry might have saved the lives of some students who had been shot.
The school resource officer assigned to the school resigned earlier this week after it was revealed that he had waited outside the school for four minutes after the shooting started. Scot Petersen was originally suspended without pay and then decided to resign.
In the midst of the heated debate over gun control that erupted after the shooting, the inaction of the deputies underscores the need of citizens to be able to protect their own lives. For anti-gun activists who would like to make guns more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain, the fact that armed police waited outside rather than intervene in the massacre raises difficult questions about whether citizens can depend on police to charge in and take down an active shooter.
The delayed entry by the Broward County deputies is not unique and may be more common than many realize. For instance, at Columbine officers were on the scene within five minutes according to CBS News. The officer assigned to the school exchanged gunfire with one of the shooters, who retreated into the school. Six officers then waited outside while the killers stalked the school. It took almost two hours for a SWAT team to storm the school. By then, both shooters and 13 innocent people were dead.
The motto of the police is “to protect and serve,” but if officers believe that they are outnumbered and outgunned, they won’t necessarily charge into an unknown threat. There is no legal duty for them to do so. In fact, Supreme Court precedent holds that government police protection is a “benefit,” not an “entitlement.”
The fundamental lesson to learn is that police will protect citizens if it is feasible for them to do so. If officers fear for their own safety, protecting innocent civilians may well become a secondary consideration to protecting themselves and containing the shooter.
Keeping that in mind, law-abiding citizens should seriously consider how to protect themselves until the police arrive and form into a force that is deemed safe to go after the criminals. For many, that may mean getting a gun of their own and a permit to carry it. Even at school.
Originally published on The Resurgent