Retired Broward deputy speaks out on Scot Peterson, SRO shortage

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - A retired Broward school resource officer is speaking out about the officer accused of not doing enough to help stop the gunman who targeted students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In an interview with 7News, Robert Martinez said he is weighing in on the sensitive subject because his former colleagues cannot.

When asked whether they are afraid to speak out about these issues, Martinez replied, “Absolutely, without a doubt.”

Martinez retired less than a year ago, after 30 years at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and 18 years as a school resource officer.

“Think about it. We’re the laughingstock of the world right now,” he said.

Martinez said he is embarrassed by what’s come out about School Resource Officer Scot Peterson not going into the school’s freshman building to stop the shooter.

“I worked with him for 18 years as a school resource officer,” he said. “I think he’s a dedicated professional. It’s hard for me to believe that he stood by and did nothing. It’s really hard. I’m having a hard time believing that.”

Martinez said everyone should wait until the investigation is over before they pass judgment, but he added that now is the time to expose other problems — like what he calls a major shortage of school resource officers in Broward County.

“I started in 1997, and we had approximately 60 SROs,” he said.

When asked how many SROs are currently working at Broward schools, Martinez said, “About 30-something. Half.”

Alleged Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz was in and out of trouble at school but never arrested. That’s something that doesn’t surprise Martinez.

When asked whether the county wants to keep the arrest numbers down, Martinez said, “Correct.”

When asked whether county officials are encouraging SROs not to make arrests, the retired officer again said, “Correct.”

Martinez said that removing a dangerous child like Cruz from a school can take up to a year because of all the red tape, and he’s upset that so many of the missed warning signs are now being blamed on the officers.

“They’re just throwing us out with the trash, and that’s just unbelievable,” he said. “You dedicate your life to helping kids, and this happens, and then we’re all cowards, lazy and so forth, and I think that’s an injustice.”

Martinez said he hopes Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and lawmakers will come directly to these officers to talk about solutions.

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