Scot Peterson Charges Should Have 'Gone Further,' Says Broward County Lawmaker

Jun 7, 2019

Former Broward deputy officer Scot Peterson failed to respond to the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland over a year ago, and was arrested on criminal charges this week. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been investigating how law enforcement officers responded to the incident.

Peterson was a school resource officer at the time of the Feb. 14 shooting, and some of the charges against him include child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury.

There has been widespread criticism towards Peterson’s lack of action in confronting the shooter.

“He couldn't have saved my little boy, my Alex was already gone by the time he arrived,” said father Max Schachter at Tuesday’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. “But I know that if he had gone in, he could have saved those six people that died on the third floor and the four kids that were shot and injured."

State Senator Lauren Book of Broward spoke with the South Florida Roundup Friday about Peterson’s arrest, how the charges against him could have gone further and what that means for teachers who will be elected to carry firearms in classrooms.

This has been edited lightly for clarity.

WLRN: Do you agree with the charges filed this week against Scot Peterson?

BOOK: I do and I wish that we could have gone further.

Such as what, more charges?

I wish that we could. I mean, nonfeasance and misfeasance and malfeasance doesn't fit anyone more perfectly than this coward of Broward. You know, this is an individual who didn't move for 48 minutes, provided misinformation for responding officers, which made the response even more complicated and complex, and really, you know, from the get-go has stonewalled and not given information that he should have and it has really been a source of pain and grief for this community.

Let's talk specifics here. He faces seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. What other accusations would you support filing against him?

Well, I think that we know for sure that the deaths on the third floor could have been completely preventable had he gone into that building. Some of those deaths when the shooter first got into that building weren't necessarily preventable. But we know when he was dropped off by Andrew Medina at the front door of the 1200 building [Peterson] could have gone in to that building. And that was at a point in time where he wasn't even down the hallway.

So would you support some kind of involuntary manslaughter type charge?

Yeah, and at least one for every count of a child who was shot and/or killed. I think that this is an individual where we need to make an example of him. And I'm just glad that this is kind of where we are. Even though it's not as far as maybe I would have wanted or some others would have wanted.

These are certainly serious charges against Scott Peterson. And you are talking about even more serious criminal charges. What do any of these charges ... mean as school districts look at allowing teachers to be armed?

Look, I think that this is an individual who was a law enforcement officer, sworn to serve and protect and make sure that the kids and individuals that he was sworn to protect, that he would do so and he did exactly the opposite. He protected himself. He provided misinformation and did nothing to prevent loss of life. I think that as we look at the legislature who kind of moved along a piece of legislation ... to arm educational personnel, I think this is something that we need to be paying attention to.

Certainly there's training involved before teachers carry firearms in schools and whatnot. But, what do the charges against Peterson inform you as a legislator about the potential ... with a teacher and a firearm?

This is a local control issue. That's what the Bill 7030 that you talked about is set to do. If a local school district chooses to allow educational personnel to carry a firearm, they are able to do so, and I think that when you look at the training and the different components that they seek to put in place, they need to have that outlined. ... What does the training look like? What are the words in those training manuals and what is the legal precedent for this? I think we're all on really unchartered waters, and really need to be paying attention.