Broward County Sheriff’s Union President Jeff Bell has had enough.
He’s had enough of Americans scrutinizing the response of the Broward County Sheriff’s office in the aftermath of the deadly Parkland mass shooting, which killed 17 innocent people while deputies were widely reported to have stood outside during the rampage.
On Thursday, Bell went onto Fox News to deliver a message to Americans: Stop calling the deputies “cowards.”
“Breaking tonight on the story, a bombshell exclusive, Fox News report about Florida’s police response to the parkland shooting,” host Martha MacCallum said. “And why in the crucial first moments of action officers were apparently told to stand down and remain outside while the shooter was in the building instead of storming that building, which is the procedure that they are supposed to follow.”
“Take a look at these dispatch logs obtained by Fox News,” she continued. “At 2:32 P.M. A full 11 minutes after the shooting began, and police still didn’t know where Nikolas Cruz was. They were commanded to form a perimeter, rather than go into the school. And by the time the SWAT team did decide to enter, Cruz was already a few minutes away from the building buying a drink at a Subway restaurant. As you remember he had found his way out with other students as they were exiting the building, terrified for their lives.”
“Here now exclusively Broward deputy sheriff Jeff Bell,” she said. “Thank you very much Sheriff Bell for being here tonight. The procedure says that they need to collectively run into a building when there is a school shooting happening. Why did they not do that?”
“That’s the million-dollar question on that: Why weren’t the first units go in the building and go-go-go like we are trained to do that?” Bell replied. “The call logs appear to be authentic and if those logs are correct and those commands should have been directed to get into the building, not set up the perimeter first on that.”
“Who made the call to stand down or to stage as it was termed in that dialogue?” MacCallum asked.
“In the notes your producers provided to me recognizes 17 S 1, which would stand for 17 Sierra 1, would be the captain of Parkland to give that command,” he said.
“What do you think we need to have in terms of information to figure out what happened here? What do they need to be forthcoming with in terms of information so that everybody can figure out what happened here so that it never happens again?” she asked.
“Well, I think what the union is prepared to state tonight is that we’re coming out and we are going to request total transparency from the sheriff and the sheriff’s office,” Bell responded. “Our deputies that are working the streets are getting attacked by public comments, being called cowards in restaurants and coffee shops. And that has to stop.”
“So the only way that we’re going to be able to heal as an agency and heal as a community and move forward is to be completely transparent with the public,” Bell continued. “If we did something wrong, we did something wrong. If we did not do anything wrong, then that’s great, also.”
“But we have to get past the finger pointing and the political posturing in this county right now so we can begin to heal and focus on the true issues that are behind this terrible tragedy which is the mental health status and this promise program in Broward county that we have,” he went on.
“In terms of Sheriff Israel, is he going to be forthcoming with these videotapes?” MacCallum asked. “I mean, I think back to the Las Vegas shooting. We still have never seen the videotapes. So who has control over these tapes? Who has control over the 911 calls so that the time line can be absolutely positively locked down and everyone can understand who made these calls and why.”
“Well the dispatch centers will have access to the 911 calls both at Coral Springs and sheriff’s office. We have that. The school board.”
“Who has to okay releasing it?” MacCallum asked.
“Oh, that’s going to be from the sheriff’s office itself and feds,” Bell said.
“Do you believe he will?” she asked.
“That is a question I do not know the answer to,” he said. “Can I only plead with the sheriff and the sheriff’s office to release this information so that deputies can stop being attacked in public and being called cowards, which they rightfully should not be called. The actions of a few people should not taint the hard working men and women of the Broward county sheriff’s office and other officers.”
“Because of the political posturing we have going on in Broward county, we have forgotten about the real issue and we failed to give proper recognition to some of the people that risked their lives that day going into the building,” Bell said. “For example, the Broward county SWAT team. The Broward county crime scene and the canine unit and the Coral Springs police departments that selflessly went inside not knowing if the sheriff was inside or not.”
“Those guys have been the forgotten topic on this and Mr. Cruz is suddenly not the topic of the conversation. It’s about whether something did or did not happen. We need to move past that to move forward with the healing process down here,” Bell said.
That very well may be true that brave men and women assisted in the response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. That does not let the Broward County Sheriff’s office, the deputies that did not intervene to stop the active shooter murdering schoolchildren, or Sheriff Steve Israel off the hook.
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