Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledges the distinction between honoring police officials for their brave service, and still holding law enforcement accountable when confronting life-and-death situations.
On Thursday, the Republican governor said that law enforcement must be held to high standards during times of crises, particularly school shootings.
"We're going to figure out definitively what happened with this response or non-response," said DeSantis, regarding the speculation that local police officials in Uvalde, Texas, were slow to respond to last week's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which led to the deaths of 19 children and two adults.
"I met with Parkland families. I can tell you one of things they were frustrated about was there was not an adequate effort to rescue their kids," recalls DeSantis, referring to the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
In that incident, investigators determined Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, who was serving as the school resource officer on the day of the shooting, failed to confront the shooter.
Investigative officials also found that several other Broward County deputies "did not urgently enter the building."
For last week's Uvalde shooting, nearly 20 officers reportedly delayed entering the area in which the shooting suspect — 18-year-old Salvador Ramos — allegedly opened fire on a single classroom.
DeSantis says of the Parkland incident: "The shooter didn't meet the quick resistance that he should have met. You had a lot of folks that could have been held responsible and nobody had been held responsible. So, when I came in [as Florida governor], we decided to do something about that."
DeSantis didn't take gubernatorial office until January 2019 — 11 months after the Parkland shooting.
Upon taking office, though, DeSantis suspended Sheriff Scott Israel.
Israel was then removed from office by a vote of the Florida Senate in October 2019.
"I honor the service of people who wear the uniform. Their duty is to put themselves in harm’s way. And that's not an easy thing to do," said DeSantis.
"You've got to be willing to step up. And when those times call, and they're not easy, you have to be able to respond, particularly when you've got people who aren't able to defend themselves."
DeSantis added: "So, what we did in Parkland was say, 'We're going to hold law enforcement accountable as well.' And that's the thing. You can have the best security in the world. But if you don't have folks that are out there when it really counts, which very well may have happened in Texas, then it's not going to amount as much."
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