PBSO ‘trying like heck’ to stop active shooters, Sheriff Bradshaw says

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw told a group of suburban Boynton Beach residents Wednesday the steps his agency has taken to prepare for an active shooter and compared that to what was “missing” in the Parkland high school massacre.

He also spoke about the importance of mental health care and the agency’s interaction with Zachary Cruz, the brother of confessed school-shooter Nikolas Cruz.

But before Bradshaw went into detail, he made this very clear: “I am not critiquing what happened in Broward.”

BOYNTON READERS: Sign up for the weekly Boynton Beach newsletter here

He said no matter the policies, the procedures, the training, “Unless you have the proper command structure in place, it will not work.”

Bradshaw said he does.

“Can I guarantee we’ll never have an active shooter? No,” he said. “But we’re trying like heck to stop it ahead of time.”

Bradshaw, who is running for reelection in 2020, spoke at the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations meeting Wednesday held at Bellaggio on Hypoulxo Road. COBWRA invited Bradshaw and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mackey to speak for First Responder Appreciation Day. Bradshaw chose to speak mainly on active shooters.

“In Broward, it was a school. It can happen anywhere: A government building; Walmart; On an airplane; A bus; A cruise ship. It doesn’t matter where it’s at. It can happen,” he said.

PBSO hopes new app, mental health focus cut risk of school shootings

Bradshaw spoke about his tactical street commanders, who are tasked with organizing the response to critical incidents.

“You can not leave it to the deputy on scene,” Bradshaw said. “We saw that.”

When Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentine’s Day, a school resource deputy was at the scene but did not go inside, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said. Israel denounced deputy Scot Peterson’s actions and suspended him without pay a few days after the shooting. Peterson chose to retire.

Bradshaw also spoke about transmittal of information.

“Nobody put it all together and did something about it. I saw that immediately. Too many pieces, too many places,” he said, likely referring to the several agencies who received complaints regarding Nikolas Cruz prior to the shooting.

Bradshaw mentioned the Connect & Protect app and Student Protect, a new app for students, parents and staff to connect with law enforcement.

“Another piece of the puzzle that was missing,” Bradshaw said, was the mental health component.

Bradshaw said he started the behavioral sciences unit a few years ago which is a mental health unit. The unit has seven teams, each with a deputy who has a master’s or Ph.D. in psychology or social sciences paired with a mental health professional. The teams evaluate information the sheriff’s office receives regarding someone who might have mental health issues.

He said the unit was called to evaluate Zachary Cruz, Nikolas’ brother, after the school shooting.

“The day after it happened down there, we dealt with (Zachary),” Bradshaw said. “We got information he was acting out.”

Bradshaw wants to expand the unit to 21 teams and plans to ask legislators for the money to do so.

“If they had done that in Broward, we may not have had 17 people dead today because the person would have been off the street getting the help they need,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

NEW: Florida State House candidate admits to lying about college degree
NEW: Florida State House candidate admits to lying about college degree

State House candidate Melissa Howard admitted Monday that she lied about having a degree from Miami University, apologized and declared she intends to stay in a race that has drawn national attention after it came out she was displaying a fake diploma and had gone to great lengths to deceive people about her college credentials. “I would like...
JUST IN: Delayed FAU graduation ceremony joyous, defiant
JUST IN: Delayed FAU graduation ceremony joyous, defiant

Some people were angry. Some were sad. Some were defiant. Some were stoic. Many weren’t here at all. On Tuesday, Florida Atlantic University staged a belated re-do of a once-in-a-lifetime commencement someone had stolen on Aug. 7 with a threat on a note stuck to a mirror.  Of the 462 graduates who last week were moments away from...
Could your child be gifted? Here's what you need to know 
Could your child be gifted? Here's what you need to know 

Just about every parent has heard their child say something that seems advanced for his age. Or seen her show off an impressive new skill and wondered, "Is my child is gifted?" Of course, each child has special talents and interests, but giftedness is usually identified in specific ways. What does it mean to be gifted and what traits could...
BREAKING: Teen charged as adult in Boca Raton crash that injured 8
BREAKING: Teen charged as adult in Boca Raton crash that injured 8

The 17-year-old driver who fled from authorities last month in Boca Raton and seriously injured seven others along the way now faces an adult felony charge, records show.  Wanzay Denson of Fort Lauderdale was booked Friday afternoon into the Palm Beach County Jail on a charge of fleeing and eluding that caused serious injuries. He was released...
Grant allows Bucher to order more iPads, beef up voting security
Grant allows Bucher to order more iPads, beef up voting security

The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections has ordered 1,750 updated iPad Minis — which will be able to have the latest Apple security patch on them — for voters to check in with at the polls in the November election. The iPads will be paid for with a federal grant meant to be spent on strengthening cyber security for election systems...
More Stories