Law Enforcement Should Be Held Accountable for Failing to Stop School Shootings

In a powerful op-ed in USA TODAY, law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds argues that authorities who fail to stop massacres should face consequences, that “incompetence should be penalized.” Makes sense, right? Evil triumphs when good men do nothing, as Ed Burke would remind us.

To make his case, Reynolds recounts just some of the blunders and oversights law enforcement has made in recent years:

Despite receiving a warning directly from the Russian government, the FBI failed to stop the Tsarnaev brothers from staging the Boston Marathon bombing. Despite having plenty of resources, the Charlottesville police failed to stop a car attack that left a woman dead. The FBI interviewed Omar Mateen, the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter, and considered criminally investigating him. They didn’t — possibly because his father was an FBI informant.

The FBI also missed numerous “red flags” before the San Bernardino shooting. And despite having lots of warning, the FBI, the Broward County schools and the Broward Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Scott Israel all failed to stop Nikolas Cruz from shooting up a high school.

The Parkland incident is particularly egregious because not only did the on-campus deputy run and hide when the going got rough, three other deputies who arrived on scene shortly thereafter and opted not to engage the shooter bucking the department’s protocol. Instead, they set up a permitter and waited outside.

Children died, one can posit, because well-paid public servants responsible for doing something to prevent a tragedy, did nothing. For Reynolds, everyone should face the fire. Not just the student resource officer who, days after the shooting, resigned in disgrace.

“This is why calls for more gun control ring hollow,” wrote Reynolds “When the laws that would have prevented Nikolas Cruz from getting a gun failed because those in charge of executing them chose — chose — not to enforce them, because doing so would have made the school’s crime reports look bad, then it’s hard to believe that more laws will make a difference.”

“You know what might make a difference, though? Consequences,” he continued.

While I agree with Reynolds to an extent, I have to caution. Be careful what you wish for. For starters, we have to recognize what we’re asking here. We are asking the police to do a better job of policing themselves. As Reynolds pointed out, we have a hard time getting them to do their primary job of stopping bad guys. Now we’re going to demand that they call each other to the carpet every time one of them makes a mistake or fails to follow up on a tip?

SEE ALSO: NRA-ILA Does 180 on Extreme Risk Protection Orders… Now It Supports ‘Em!

Don’t think so. Giving incompetent people more responsibility is a recipe for gross incompetence.

That’s not even my biggest concern, though. What really worries me is the consequences of creating a culture of policing that errs on the side of doing something out of fear of prosecution for doing nothing. Doing something doesn’t always translate into doing the right thing. Sometimes something is the wrong thing. We see this all the time when politicians call for gun control following a tragedy, impelled to “do something” to placate the aggrieved.

What Reynolds fails to consider is that an overly aggressive police force can be every bit as deadly as a feckless one. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to see Sheriff Scott Israel held accountable for Parkland. Dude should be fired immediately! It’s just that, fundamentally, trying to make government competent or even hold it accountable is a fool’s errand. Irrespective of the method used.

SEE ALSO: Florida University Students Wearing Empty Holsters to Class to Oppose Gun Control

(A great story about government accountability: Remember when former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for stonewalling the House investigation to the fatally flawed gunrunning probe known as Fast and Furious? Was he held accountable? What ever happened to that guy? Oh yeah, nothing. In fact, Holder’s considering a presidential bid for 2020.)

Look, I’m not railing against the rank-and-file officer.  We need them.  Many of my friends are cops.  Good ones at that.  What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t put any faith in our bloated, Orwellian-sized federal security apparatus to do the right thing. The only reason why they’re semi-transparent about their mistakes now is because they know their jobs aren’t at risk.  Take away their job security and we’ll never get to the truth.

What we really need is (a) a smaller government and (b) a change in our culture as it relates to self-defense. Instead of completely outsourcing the vanquishing of evil to the boys in blue and the feds, I’d love to see more citizens take responsibility for their safety. I’d love to see more of us exercise our 2A rights, more of us carry concealed for self-defense, more of us engage in neighborhood watch programs. Because when Burke talked about “good men” he wasn’t just referring to law enforcement.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • John Quiroz April 19, 2018, 1:35 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m not going to be presumptuous about knowing all the details about all the shootings. The most recent school in Boward County Florida? Well, I just can’t get over it. Starting with the Fed that ignored the phone tips a month before, and straight down the line. They all should have been immediately relieved of duty, and faced charges of neglents at the very minimum. After all, who are they going to “Protect & Serve” if not our children. P. S. Run for any position/office, and you have my vote.

  • Reticent Rogue April 15, 2018, 2:22 pm

    One important thing not discussed here is that the Supreme Court of the US has consistently ruled that police have no constitutional or legal duty to protect individuals from harm.

    “The duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists.”[4-3 decision, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, (444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981).

    See also,
    DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services
    Hartzler v. City of San Jose
    Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981)

    That being said, after Sandy Hook, many (but not all) law enforcement agencies changed the ‘perimeter protocol’ to the ‘immediate engagement’ protocol. There seems to be some confusion as to which was in force in the Parkland case. Fact is, I would have engaged the shooter anyway, regardless of policy—even if it meant getting shot again—and taken the slap on the wrist later. And, personally, I don’t think those who have not been shot or even shot at should be so judgmental of those who have. Do the right thing. Let the chips fall where they may. And remember always that no law or protocol can prevent this kind of thing from happening. The worst feeling in all of Law Enforcement is to have your actions second-guessed and arm-chair-quarterbacked by those who have never been in the heat or felt the impact of a bullet.

  • Keith Mueller April 14, 2018, 3:46 pm

    Sorry, you usually nail it on gun related topics, but on this I must disagree. If anyone is to be held accountable for school shootings, IT MUST BE Joseph Biden for authoring the legislation to make them “gun free zones” in the first place. Root Cause Analysis. Of course the entire congress and Bill Clinton would be hung for treason in that they committed sedition by shredding the 2nd amendment with that infringement, rather than supporting and defending as they swore to do when they got elected to their cushy jobs. Too many folks have died because politicians eat up rights to buy votes. Gun Free Zones are death traps.

  • Pete April 14, 2018, 9:12 am

    In Parkland
    –Local students saw suspicious activity by the murderer few spoke up, they FAILED to do their job and people died.
    –The school was warned so much that the murderer couldn’t even carry a backpack to school, they FAILED to do their job and people died.
    –The FBI was warned twice of YouTube videos and FAILED to do their job and people died.
    –The local sheriff’s office was called 30+ times, they FAILED to do their jobs and people died.
    –The local mental health department deemed the murderer OK, they FAILED to do their jobs and people died.
    –The designated armed schools School Safety Officer played coward and FAILED to do his jobs and people died.

    How many of these people that FAILED to do their jobs have been fired or brought up on charges? Zero?

    So who is there an outcry to punish? A target shooter in Nebraska that has never even been in the state of Florida. Only in a liberal America can this kind of idiocy occur.

    • FirstStateMark April 15, 2018, 10:57 am

      Can’t agree more. Everybody still has their jobs. Nobody gets disciplined but I have to give up some gun rights because of political knee jerk reaction gun laws.

  • Mr. Sparkles April 13, 2018, 12:24 pm

    Glenn Harlan Reynolds is just one more acedemition who wants to parry the blame onto someone, anyone, except where it belongs. Were there failures on the part of law enforcement in these cases? Yes. Can these same persons or organizations learn from these mistakes and should we expect them to? Absolutely!!

    For a member of a profession that vehemently fights the concept of holding itself accountable for producing a uniform and well developed end product(i.e. successful students) I find his position a tad bit hypocritical.

  • Bill Hill April 13, 2018, 11:17 am


    • Al April 13, 2018, 12:47 pm

      Wow, since WHEN was it the job of the POTUS to involve himself in local affairs?!?
      The FBI, yes, but NOT the local Police or Sheriff.
      Do you have ANY grasp of how our Government works?!?
      It’s your local, State and Federal REPRESENTATIVES job, NOT the POTUS!!!!!
      There are your “ifs, ands, and buts”!
      Your local Police and Sheriff’s are YOUR issue and problem, and I for one don’t want the Feds getting involved in MY local jurisdiction, that’s the path to a Police State.

    • Buck April 13, 2018, 1:12 pm

      Two things:
      This is CNN. Fake news.
      This series of events are complements the Federal Government. The ‘Promise’ program made caused schools and police departments stop arresting and reporting crimes by blacks and hispanics to make their statistics look better when compared to asians and whites. The Florida perp, Cruz, had known problems but no record. Got a pass on his 4473. Yes, cleaning up the juvenile to adult prison pipeline killed 17 people. Probably more we haven’t heard about. This program was put into action during the OBAMA term. The kicker is that schools and police departments got/get cash incentives to comply. The ‘Promise’ program is still in effect.
      As I once heard a communist say,”I’d kill my own mother to advance the movement”.

      • Mike April 14, 2018, 3:48 pm

        You said

        “Probably more we haven’t heard about.”

        Travon Martin is one.

  • Roger April 13, 2018, 11:08 am

    We should no more hold police responsible for school shooting than hold auto manufactures responsible for deaths caused by accidents. How stupid can you get????????????????

    • smoki167 April 13, 2018, 12:59 pm

      Police are not security guards. If a crime is detected then they should investigate and if they do stop an attack or save someone’s life or property during the process that’s a plus but they are not set up to be security guards. Go after the bad guys. Oh I forgot their dead. We have to blame someone.

    • Mike April 13, 2018, 2:08 pm

      Roger your an idiot. 6 wks b4 the shootings the FBI was informed of this Cruz mofo in detail and they did NOTHING and that is just one warning there r many many more Roger. YOU R AN IDIOT. If I were u I’d quit posting, u were ment to sit & watch cartoons dip shit

      • markle laws April 15, 2018, 2:41 pm

        Please learn to spell correctly.

    • Mike April 14, 2018, 3:51 pm

      You are aware a cop was on scene as the shooter was killing people and the cop did not a thing other than hide like a school girl, right?
      Remind me again why tax money is wasted on them again, since you feel that hiding like a little girl is OK?

  • John April 13, 2018, 10:55 am

    Law Enforcement should be carefully held accountable. The Sheriffs Deputy who refused to stop the Parkland Shooter and the deputies who “took up perimeter positions” should be fired.

    The fact that the Cruz home was visited 36 times without an arrest was a management failure, starting with the Sheriff.

    The FBI, as an organization, has lost the confidence of the American people. Top leadership and middle management should be purged.

    • Mike April 13, 2018, 2:14 pm

      THANX FOR YOUR RECOGNIZING JOHN. This issue is paramount, it’s been bugging since day one , not one news agency has brought this up & it is still ignored I think this is a disgrace FBI & local law enforcement let 17 kids get shot in school. WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE

  • Samuel Stephens April 13, 2018, 10:52 am

    When a CCW holders exercise his/her’s Constitutional Right the corrupt lawyers and black robed despot judges crucify them because they are not law enforcement when law enforcement are minutes away OR law enforcement are accessing the situation behind cover.

  • brian claypool April 13, 2018, 10:52 am

    Professor Reynolds should know that there are at least 32 court decisions all the way up to the Supreme Court that all agree the police have no duty whatsoever to protect the citizens, even when they know something terrible is happening. This doctrine also applies, as far as I know, when there are multiple victims.

    • Al April 13, 2018, 12:54 pm

      Sorry, that’s not correct.
      These rulings are that the Police have no obligation to INDIVIDUALS, but do in fact have an obligation to the ‘Public at large’.
      Hence, one cannot sue the cops for failing to show up IN TIME during a crime in which the individual was in any way injured.
      But the Police are obligated to the general public as a whole, so the failure of the cops to go in at that school may indeed constitute malfeasance, or failure to do their sworn duty or uphold an oath.

  • James Summers April 13, 2018, 10:26 am

    The system failed or was ignored, agencies involved scramble to blame the weapon. Why doesn’t the public hold the officials to blame. Even the FBI said they were ” distracted ” so did nothing. If normal citizens took this attitude we would be hoisted.

    Fun fact:
    Can the police / law enforcement be held accountable for inaction ??
    Check Supreme Court rulings where law enforcement are not held to be constitutionally responsible for protecting the individual.
    Various decisions have shown ” Law enforcement agencies and personnel have no duty to protect individuals from the criminal acts of others: instead their duty is tp preserve the peace and arrest law breakers for the protection of the general public.”
    Lynch v. N.C. Dept. of Justice, 376 S.E. 2nd 247 ( N.C. app 1989 )

  • Richard April 13, 2018, 9:59 am

    The problem is that it all starts at home. Parents has no control of there children or they just let them run wild. I think the parents should be held responsible for the children actcions. If the child kills someone the the parent should serve time with the child

  • joefoam April 13, 2018, 9:35 am

    In days past, the sheriff and the school admin would have been tarred, feathered and run out of town. Instead they have been able to deflect the blame onto the NRA and evil black guns. Wow, is that some top rate spinning or what. See link below if you really want to get riled up.

  • crimsonfalcon07 April 13, 2018, 8:18 am

    This argument strikes me as fundamentally similar in a lot of ways to blaming guns, or blaming gun owners, or the NRA. The police are not responsible for committing crimes, and we do not, or should not, expect them to stop every one. Certainly there are examples of gross negligence that should be explored, but frankly, generalizing to blame an entire group of people who are trying to do their jobs, strikes me as being just as ripe for abuse as any other item on the gun control agenda.

    Make things too difficult for officers, and they just will quit. They’re already risking their lives for the benefit of others. Add in an increased chance of getting thrown under the bus because you’re underfunded and there’s some arbitrary line of “incompetence” that can get drawn by someone who isn’t in your position and didn’t experience the situation? Who wants that job? If we want the police to do a better job, we need to fund better training for them, and provide funding to understaffed departments so they have the personnel to get the job done. If they’re not doing their jobs well, that’s a question for the HR departments or Internal Affairs, not for some legislator.

    It boggles my mind why people want to hold everyone accountable except for the criminals.

  • Kevin Cote April 13, 2018, 7:42 am

    Liberal demoncrat sheriffs dept stands down on “another ” put on scripted alleged mass shooting , by a miracle stupid gullable brainwashed children( of FBI Agents no less ) which turns into by another miracle a movement nationwide ( funded,scripted, directed and produced by hollywood pedophiles libtard communist politicians and the who is who of God hating abortion loving gun grabbing law breaking debil worshipping despicable scumbags who should have been hung drawn and quartered years ago… is so obvious the sheep will tolerate being raped, pillaged and plundered 1 by 1 until thete are no more….

    Moral of the story….dont be a sheep

    Be a sheepdog

    • Z April 13, 2018, 9:28 am


  • Andy Buckmichael April 13, 2018, 6:54 am

    Law enforcement should be held accountable and then removed from the schools and replaced by security professionals. The majority of cops are nothing but goons with a badge, a gun and a license to murder.

  • Bryan April 13, 2018, 6:39 am

    By the same token, schools need better security, to help law enforcement do their job.

  • Billy M April 13, 2018, 6:29 am

    Mr. Blannelberry, good article. Please correct me is I am wrong, but a whole bunch of years ago there was a crime committed in D. C. where 3 women were raped over a 4 or 5 hour period. 2 of the women had been on the phone to the police (they were upstairs) when the attackers broke into the downstairs area and starting raping their other roommate. My understanding they were on the phone for quite some time. When they heard no more noise downstairs, they thought the attackers had left. They had not, and they were then assaulted. They sued the D. C. police force for not responding in a timely manner to the assault (I believe the police showed up several hours after the attackers had left). If I remember correctly the suit went to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled the police have a duty to Serve and Protect the public at large, but do not have a responsibility to protect an individual. If this did happen, the law enforcement community as a whole has a ‘get out of jail free’ card. They have no responsibility to an individual or individuals.

    • Ton E April 13, 2018, 7:21 am

      Warren v DC is the case you’re talking about.

  • Eric Holder April 13, 2018, 6:23 am

    Interesting……..I agree that Law Enforcement needs to be held accountable however we all know they are NOT. The FBI screws up ALL the time and local, state and federal are pretty good at killing people who are unarmed in hallways begging for their lives crying OR they burn people out and shoot then as they try to exit. Weaver, WACO, BLM, Move incident in Philadelphia, Chris Dorner etc. I do not necessarily agree with the actors however the idea of using good “tactics” is to protect everyone’s life.

    As for the cowards in Broward, the only thing I see that can be done is fired and sued by the victims. The failures by the FBI are vast and they just do not care at all, they just say “sorry” and that is the end of it.

    As for Eric Holder?????????????LMAO. Been using this ridiculous name, why? Thought everyone forgot about him. Glad to be back in the limelight. The next POTUS or POS?

    Give a hoot don’t pollute.

  • Jim Cannady April 13, 2018, 4:53 am

    Really what would have happened if they had ingaged Cruz and killed him that would have been against higher orders to see that the massacre took place.Just think what would have taken place,after everything was set and scripted like Schumer and Pelosi and Fienstien had setup.But only a crazy person would say that,you must scare the masses to gain your objective.

  • ~ Occams April 11, 2018, 12:13 pm

    STILL don’t think this was yet ANOTHER ‘scripted event’ – like Vegas, Sandy Hoax, etc?


    ‘Dead at 42: Broward County Sheriff deputy who questioned Parkland school shooting’s gun control agenda’

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