Important headlines for May 8th – The (broken) Promise?
Bottom Line: These are stories you shouldn't miss and my takes on them...
Excerpt: The Broward County School District now says that gunman Nikolas Cruz was once referred to a program that provides alternatives to arrests, contradicting earlier statements made by Superintendent Robert Runcie.
District spokeswoman Tracy Clark said in a statement that on Friday, the district analyzed data and confirmed that while Cruz was attending Westglades Middle in Parkland in 2013, he was referred to the district’s Promise program for a charge of vandalism or destruction of property of less than $1,000. He was scheduled to attend Pine Ridge Alternative Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“However, … while our records indicate that Cruz underwent an intake interview/process at Pine Ridge on November 26, 2013, it does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement,” Clark said.
She said the district is reviewing records to determine if the change was made by a school administrator or the team that worked on the individual education plan Cruz received as a special needs student. She said the facts should be known early next month after a Tallahassee consultant completes an inexpedient review of Cruz’s history in the district, which Runcie asked for on March 6.
Hot Take: As it turns out the warning signs were there even earlier than we realized with Nikolas Cruz. I'd interviewed Broward school Superintendent Robert Runcie multiple times after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas and twice I'd asked him about the Promise program. First in the context of Cruz and secondly to school safety generally. He denied that Cruz avoided potential criminal charges through the program or that it in anyway enabled him to carry out the attack. More generally Mr. Runcie suggested that any characterizations that the Promise Program allowed potential criminal behavior to be swept under the rug through the program was false. He also stated that the program hadn't resulted in the schools being any less safe. So now the question becomes what now?
This is relevant for at least one obvious reason and perhaps a few others that aren't as clear. First, if Cruz had been charged with a crime he potentially would have not been allowed to legally purchase firearms. That speaks to the bigger points which likely won't be discussed more broadly.
The rush for judgement based on available information in the wake of the shooting led to comprehensive gun control to be passed in Florida. While most supported the reforms, and likely still do in the face of these new developments, there are important points to be made starting with the obvious.
Did we pass new laws that were designed to stop someone like Nikolas Cruz that wouldn't have been necessary if existing laws had only been followed?
Is the Promise program safe after all?
Why would declarative statements be made about Cruz and the program if ongoing investigations left doubt at a time that policy was being crafted?
Why is there a rush to judgement to blame guns without the facts in hand?
Will people demand accountability of any others or is simply achieving a political objective of gun control enough?
I often talk about the mistakes made of letting money and emotions cross paths but that's true of many other life occurrences. So, what now? Where do we go from here?