SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Broward County Public School district is getting called out for safety concerns three years after the Parkland mass shooting.
On Tuesday, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission met in Sunrise for its first in-person meeting since the pandemic. A hot topic in the meeting was how the communications system has been updated.
They wanted to hear updates and changes that have been made based on their recommendations to the school board over the years.
“One of the reasons I moved from Broward County, I’ve lost a loved one here, and I’m not going to lose another one,” said Commissioner Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter in the shooting. “The same attitude I saw two years ago, this inability to find common ground and to find a way to solve this persists today. It’s infuriating. Broward doesn’t have a technology inoperability problem. It has a leadership problem.”
On Feb. 14, 2018, the radios and 911 calls overloaded the system. Several 911 calls were rerouted to different agencies leading to officers from different departments arriving at the same location.
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry met with commissioners and said tens of millions of dollars have been spent on updating the system.
“It wasn’t solely the radio system in that tragedy, there were a lot of things that failed in that tragedy,” Henry said. “When we were here before, it was about the system wasn’t up and running. It didn’t work. Today, the system is up and running, no small feat. Two systems are actually up and running, no small feat.”
The district had 10 transmission towers at the time and now have 16. The 16th tower placed in Hollywood faced backlash as the residents of the city did not want it in a park. The tower ultimately was placed in the park.
“This commission found numerous, numerous failures that led to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre,” said one committee member. “Communications was one of those failures and you own that. You all own that. I guess if I had a question: how many more people have to die before you adults get in a room and fix this?”
Commissioners, however, said not enough has been done.
“This district needs to change,” Commission Chair Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. “This district needs to understand that this is ground zero. This is where this happened. This district needs to show leadership and set the example for others. This district shouldn’t continue to be the bud of the problem. I hope it changes.”
BCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright promised to look into matters and report back to the commission.
“He was very clear in saying, ‘OK, these are the areas that we need updates on, and we need to know what’s going on,'” she said.
Meanwhile, district officials said they are getting tips on the Fortify Florida website and app on everything from bullying to teacher behavior.
“We are not ignoring the tips,” Broward County Public Schools official Lynn Moscoso said. “If someone is making an allegation of something that could put safety on the top of our list, it’s something that is concerning. We’re going to take action.”
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