As the hours and days pass, it's becoming increasingly apparent how terribly law enforcement -- and especially the Broward County Sheriff's office -- bungled its collective handling of the Parkland massacre, from ignoring multiple red flags leading up to the horrific incident to deadly inaction during the shooting itself. We can now add 'lying after the fact' to the list. Facing intense questions about the department's disastrous response to explicit warning signs about the perpetrator, the Sheriff's office released an indignant statement at nearly 10 pm on Saturday night. The media's coverage was unfair, the memo suggested, because an inaccurate statistic was being reported for public consumption:
I'm not sure it's a helpful talking point to insist that county sheriffs "only" responded to, um, 23 prior incidents involving the killer or his family, as opposed to 39. But that's the line of defense Scott Israel chose to select. The 39 figure is "simply not true," he asserts, instructing reporters to cease citing it. He also rejects the scandalous allegation from other law enforcement officials that multiple county sheriff officers who were on location failed to enter the building while the shooter was still actively spraying students with bullets. We know this is true of at least one officer, who has resigned; Israel downplays the serious and credible accusation that there were three others as an 'unconfirmed claim.' It's extraordinary to watch this guy engage in damage control just days after he shamelessly joined, and even helped lead, the anti-NRA pile-on at CNN's 'town hall' event. A polarizing outside advocacy group sure comes in handy as a scapegoat for deflecting attention away from one's own lethal failures, which directly contributed to the body count. Enter Buzzfeed, which has obtained documentation proving that Israel still isn't telling the truth:
.@browardsheriff says it responded to 23 calls involving Cruz or his family, but records obtained by @BuzzFeedNews show at least 45 responses:https://t.co/JHCQ2T3tHs— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) February 25, 2018
And Sheriff says he won't resign though 4 deputies waited outside during the shooting:https://t.co/8qrjQHazra
Broward County sheriff's officials said in a statement late Saturday that they responded only to 23 calls involving suspected Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz or his family over the years, but records obtained by BuzzFeed News show at least 45 responses since 2008. The number of calls made over the years involving Cruz or his family, according to the call records, are nearly twice the number publicly disclosed by the department. On Saturday night, the Broward County Sheriff's Office released a statement pushing back on reports that they had been called more than the 23 incidents released by the department...Dispatch records obtained by BuzzFeed News show that, since 2008, there were 22 calls to send deputies to Cruz's home that have not been publicly disclosed by the department.
The implosion of this man's credibility is now complete. In an astonishingly glib and arrogant interview on CNN Sunday morning, in which he was grilled by Jake Tapper, Israel angrily denounced the entirely justified calls for his resignation, praising his own "amazing" leadership of the department. Remember, this is someone who whipped up the anti-gun crowd in that arena last week, prior to the arrival of villainous Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch. Many others, including some who have been extremely critical of the NRA, have become deeply unimpressed with the Sheriff:
Broward’s sheriff should resign and an independent investigator needs to be appointed by Florida’s governor or the Justice Department. Clearly, the gross incompetence of his office before and during the massacre contributed to the deaths of 17 children. https://t.co/ktp8h8DX5N— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 25, 2018
Having latched onto Israel -- a man with a title and a badge blasting the NRA for his own failures -- as an ally, some on the Left are mounting absolutely mind-boggling defenses of him and his department. One popular refrain is that the episode debunks the "good guy with a gun" argument because one or several armed officers didn't stop an ongoing shooting. This is bizarre. The problem is that the good guys with guns apparently didn't try to intercede when they could have. The rebuttal to this stupid point is almost insultingly obvious:
If a building was burning and the fire department showed up and just sat there as it burned to the ground, no one would have said they were "unable" to put out the fire.— neontaster ?? (@neontaster) February 24, 2018
I also cannot fathom why some people feel compelled to defend the cop (or cops) who stood outside the building while bullets were flying inside. Yes, it's a scary situation. Yes, it's life-threatening. But it's the job of law enforcement to protect innocent people. Don't want the risk? Don't sign up for the job. Here's one of the anti-gun student activists making excuses for the man who could have saved his classmates' lives, while reserving his anger at an organization that represents law-abiding gun owners:
As I've written previously, these kids have every right to get involved in the political process and to make their voices heard. Any responses or criticisms should be leveled delicately, out of respect for the trauma they've just endured. But I really can't wrap my head around being so fervently committed to blaming political opponents that you're willing to go on television and give an undeserved pass to someone who had the opportunity -- and in fact the duty -- to intervene and save lives, yet did not. And at what point do adult journalists have some obligation to step in and even lightly challenge straight-up smears like this?
Parkland student survivor and activist David Hogg criticizes NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch: "She owns these congressmen. She can get them to do things. It's just she doesn't care about these children's lives" https://t.co/cfOvcjtoDq https://t.co/rOqG9HzvhF— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) February 25, 2018
I'm open to debating ideas to help mitigate America's mass shooting problem, including considering some new regulations and restrictions. But it's maddening to watch people ignore or elide the glaring failures of the existing system that led to Parkland in their zealous, and too often fact-free, pursuit of new laws. Gun control activists and their media cheerleaders undermine their standing with ugly demonization and outright slanders against people with whom they disagree on policy. In what possible way to do such tactics increase the likelihood of meaningful conversation or compromise?