BSO major: School district may be better served by forming its own police department

SUNRISE, Fla. (WSVN/AP) – A Broward Sheriff’s Office major told the commission investigating the Parkland school massacre that it may make more sense for Broward schools to have their own police force.

BSO Maj. Nichole Anderson told the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission on Friday that her office believes Broward County would be better served if the school district formed its own police department. She said similar arrangements work well in the neighboring counties of Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

The topic on the table for Friday’s MSD Public Safety Commission meeting centered around school resource officers.

Broward Deputy Scot Peterson was assigned to Stoneman Douglas when the Feb. 14 shooting happened. He did not attempt to stop the gunman.

In a TV interview, Peterson said he did not know where the shots were coming from. He retired after being criticized for not rushing into the building where 17 students and teachers were killed.

Max Schachter, who lost his son Alex in the shooting, said he wants qualified school resource officers in place.

“How old are the SROs? Are they in their 50s? Are they in the twilight of their career,” Schachter said, “and they just come there just to hang out and relax and get a free bed and breakfast?”

April Schentrup, the mother of MSD shooting victim Carmen Schentrup and a school principal in the district, explained how a school resource officer should act.

“Well, I think it’s an important role,” said Schentrup. “As a school principal, we know that it’s not just a person in that position – it’s the right person in that position, so understanding what their roles and responsibilities are – they talked about the training today – all the things that they are required to do.”

In Broward, the sheriff’s office and several municipal police departments provide officers, each following different procedures. Anderson said having one county school police department would create uniform policies and funding.

Financially, however, it’s not likely the school district will be able to form its own police department.

The commission, appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, has been tasked with studying the Feb. 14 massacre and making improvements statewide.

While the commission met Friday, attorneys for the accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, tried to stop portions from his confession from being released to the public. Prosecutors said families have the right to hear them.

Schentrup said she agrees with prosecutors. “We kind of need to hear it because we need to understand how did all this play out? How did this result in our children’s and loved ones’ deaths?” she said. “We need to know that in order to be able to understand how to fix it for other people, so they don’t endure the same loss.”

The commission is scheduled to meet again in July.

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