Roy Exum: The Truth & Parkland

Monday, April 16, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

On CNN Sunday night a spokesperson from the NRA challenged Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel in a live debate based more on fact than fiction. The Broward County “top cop” blames the NRA and Americans who own guns for the February shooting at Parkland, Fla. where 17 were killed. But Dana Loesch challenged Israel over the fact police officers had been called to confront Nikolas Cruz 39 different times in just the 12 months before he murdered his schoolmates

Because of a zany discipline plan the school system initiated seven years ago, the facts are Broward County has the highest percentage of the “most serious, violent and chronic juvenile offenders” in all of Florida. Under any other discipline model in America, shooter Nikolaus Cruz would have been arrested at some point during those 39 times officers were called, but today in Broward County the police must arrange counseling instead of placing violent juveniles under arrest.

Nikolaus Cruz bought an AR-15 because he had no record of wrongdoing. No arrest? No record. He had no federal charges. No reason he couldn’t buy a gun. And that’s somebody’s fault.

Paul Sperry, writing on the RealClearInvestigations website, clearly shows “the inmates are in charge of the asylum” in Broward County. A Harvard-educated superintendent, with strong ties to Barack Obama, noticed a marked school-to-jail pipeline where students committing felonies were 59 percent black and 17 percent white. Blacks make up 40 percent of the Broward students but 70 percent of the arrests.

Supt. Robert Runcie, who is black and makes about $340,000 each year, demanded these troubled kids be allowed to return to schools instead of juvenile jails. With no punishment, teachers have been beaten up, neighbors terrorized by drive-by shootings, gang rapes and home invasions. Other children are beaten and bullied almost constantly and several lawsuits are now in the courts because of the absurd lack of discipline.

Here’s what created Nikolas Cruz. In 2014 there were 325 incarcerated felons released from juvenile jails. These aren’t shoplifters but ‘hard kids’ who were in the lockup with murder convictions, manslaughter, car theft, sex offenses, drug charges, weapons violations - the gamut of offenses. Because they were juveniles there is much more leeway.

The next year there were 570 minors released back in the Broward County schools and last year 967 bad kids made it back to classes. Employees of the Broward County school system guide the miscreants through the court systems, but what really happens is once violent kids get a free get-out-of-jail, they pick up right where they left off.

Since 2015 there have been “at least three” incidents where students brought guns and ammo to school to do shoot-ups like Nikolas Cruz did in February.

So, candidly, how bad is it? RealClearInvestigations offers these numbers:

* -- County wide, juvenile arrests are down, but serious violent crimes involving school-aged Broward youths – including armed robbery, kidnapping and even murder – have spiked, even as such violent crimes across the state have dropped.

* -- The report cited, “Juvenile arrests for murder and manslaughter increased 150 percent between 2013 and 2016. They increased by another 50 percent in 2017. County juveniles were responsible for a total of 16 murders or manslaughters in the past two years alone, according to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

* -- In 2017-17, the number of Broward juveniles collared for armed robbery totaled 92, up 46 percent from 2013, department data show. Arrests for auto thefts jumped 170 percent between 2013 and 2017 – from 105 to 284. Juveniles charged with kidnapping, moreover, surged 157 percent in 2016 and another 43 percent last year.

* -- Thousands of arrested Broward students have had their records deleted in the system as part of a program to end “disproportionate minority contact” with law enforcement, blindfolding both street cops and school resource officers to the criminal history of potential juvenile threats. In addition, “the actual police reports are being destroyed,” said Broward juvenile prosecutor Maria Schneider at a recent Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board meeting.

* -- “After Broward schools began emphasizing rehabilitation over incarceration, fights have broken out virtually every day in classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and campuses across the district. Last year, more than 3,000 fights erupted in the district’s 300-plus schools, including the altercations involving Cruz. No brawlers were arrested, even after their third fight, and even if they sent other children to the hospital.”

* -- “Because the students involved in the fights are considered “mutual combatants,” Broward County administrators tell parents they cannot be referred to police under the new discipline code.”

* -- “In a December 2016 fight caught on video at Plantation High School, several girls beat and dragged another girl to the ground and took turns kicking her. Campus police did not break up the fight and the girls who jumped her were not arrested. Three other fights reportedly broke out the same day at the school.”

* -- “Rosalind Osgood, a Broward County school board member whose district includes Plantation High, acknowledged at the time the district has a fighting and overall violence problem. But she argued arrests and other harsh punishments are not the answer because they do not address underlying emotional issues that lead to aggression.”

* -- “Between 2013 and 2015 (the latest data available), weapons possession, fighting, bullying and attempted suicide all rose for Broward high schools, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. More than 17 percent of students avoided going to school at least once because they felt unsafe. There were more than 70,000 students enrolled in Broward high schools in 2015.”

* -- “The CDC’s survey of Broward middle schools showed 33.5 percent of the 1,503 students surveyed in 2015 had been bullied on school property. Almost half – 47.4 percent – had gotten into fights, with more than 4 percent resulting in injuries treated by a doctor. Nearly 20 percent carried a gun, knife or club to school, up from almost 18 percent in 2013, while one in five also seriously thought about killing themselves.”

* -- A 62-year-old science teacher had her nose fractured and suffered a confusion after she was hit by a student. She had told the student he couldn’t bounce a basketball in class. No arrest was made. It was the second time in two weeks the teacher had been attacked.

* -- “In 2017 alone, there were at least 10 reported cases of students taking their own lives, along with “a tremendous increase in the calls on suicides," records show, prompting the district to implement "special response teams" to prevent more suicides. Even elementary school children are attempting suicide.”

* -- School resource officers in Broward County have been cut to half since the no-arrest mandate was created.

* -- The Broward County school district “is putting teachers and administrators through training to examine their “whiteness” and to purify themselves of “implicit biases” that could prejudice their reaction to minority misbehavior, while encouraging empathy for factors that contribute to their misbehavior, such as “adverse childhood experiences.”

In other words, instead of blaming these students for committing a higher rate of infractions, Runcie and his team are putting teachers and principals on the spot for harboring deep-seated prejudices that lead them to “subconsciously" mete out harsher punishments for them.

* -- Broward School District “has already put teachers through a highly controversial two-day anti-racism training program taught by the San Francisco based Pacific Educational Group. Its training cautions white teachers against looking at black misbehavior through the lens of “whiteness” without understanding the black culture, which it claims is “loud” and “emotional."

* -- PEG also instructs BCPS educators to self-examine, through “courageous conversations” the "privilege of being white or the right to be white,” before referring unruly students of color for punishment.

* * *

BEST QUOTE: “America … there is only one person responsible for this act. That’s the detestable, violent killer. He’s responsible for this act. Nobody else but him.” – Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

SECOND-PLACE QUOTE: “We’re not going to dismantle a program that’s been successful in the district because of false information that’s been out there” – Superintendent Robert Runcie.

THIRD PLACE QUOTE: “I don’t want schools to be a place where we’ve got gobs and gobs of officers walking around …   I’m trying to keep kids out of jail, so I don’t want to create a jail environment.” – Broward County School Board member Rosalind Osgood (She was the board chairman and one of the first signers of the no-arrest mandate.)

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