Political motivations often lead to bad policy — in the case of the Broward County School District, political motivations led to deadly policy.
A look at the past seven years since Scott Israel became the head of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office reveal his agenda for self-advancement by making the school district in his jurisdiction appear safer. His actions proved to do the exact opposite.
During his reelection campaign in 2016, Israel proudly toted his accomplishments of “sharply reduc(ing) violent crime and burglary rates,” as well as his “innovative initiatives” to keep students in school and out of jail, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Those statistics were nothing more than a smokescreen.
In 2013, a year after Israel was elected to head of the department, The Broward County School Board and District Superintendent made an agreement with Broward County Law enforcement officials to essentially stop arresting students for crimes, American Thinker explained.
Aside from the school district and sheriff’s office, a politically motivated third part got involved. More specifically, a political group: The NAACP.
“One of the nation’s largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses,” read a 2013 Associated Press report.
Rather than base the school’s disciplinary policies on keeping students safe, Broward County School District adopted an NAACP-advised, social-justice “PROMISE” program. Thanks to then President Barack Obama, politically motivated, race-based school policy wasn’t unusual. As noted by American Thinker, “In Obama era … considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy.”
“(A)cross the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers,” read the agreement between the school and law enforcement.
The solution? Look the other way.
What began as a somewhat innocuous policy of overlooking students’ “minor offenses,” turned into a culture of turning a blind-eye to serious crimes. After all, how could crime and incarceration statistics continue to fall if reports were made by the school and arrests made by the authorities?
As noted earlier, Sheriff Israel even boasted about these artificially low crime statistics on a candidate questionnaire for his re-election.
“The results speak for themselves. As our sheriff, I successfully implemented new policies and approaches to public safety that sharply reduced violent crime and burglary rates – the sharpest declines in the entire State of Florida,” he said. “My innovative initiatives also helped keep children in school and out of jail, greatly expanding the juvenile civil citation program and making issuance of civil citations mandatory for BSO deputies….I will build upon these impressive successes in my next term as Sheriff.”
But while arrests decreased, suspensions increased, according to the Sun Sentinel.
These horrible policies came to a head in the months leading up to the deadly Stoneman Douglas School shooting on Feb. 14.
Despite numerous tips to the police department regarding Nikolas Cruz’s erratic and dangerous behavior, the status quo of inaction within the police department held out, and nothing was done.
Seventeen innocent lives were lost as a result.
This is horrific. “In November, a tipster called BSO to say Cruz ‘could be a school shooter in the making’ but deputies did not write up a report on that warning. It came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons.” https://t.co/3gtwGPl6bo
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 23, 2018
Since the shooting at the Broward County school, a 2015 remark from Maria Schneider, the head of the juvenile unit in the Broward State Attorney’s Office, now reads like an ominous foreshadowing of what would happen three years later.
“We’ve accomplished reducing the arrests,” she said. “Now it’s ‘how do we keep that up without making the schools a more dangerous place?’”
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