Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Security System Was Ineffective & Inadequate

By Roger J. Katz, Attorney at Law and Stephen L. D’Andrilli
But What Does Effective School Security Look Like?

Students are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school
Students are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school
Arbalest Quarrel
Arbalest Quarrel

New York, NY  -(  A tipping point is reached: Subsequent to the mass shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, in Parkland, Florida, the public clamors for and demands answers, an accounting, and a call for corrective measures across the country.

Parkland, Florida is a wealthy enclave abutting prominent Florida Cities—Coral Springs, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach.

The public learned about Parkland after tragedy struck the City’s public high school: Marjory Stoneman Douglas. A deranged young man, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz, entered the School on February 14, 2018, armed with a semiautomatic rifle and several rounds of ammunition. During the ensuing shooting spree, Cruz murdered 17 people, including both students and teachers. He wounded several more students, many seriously.

Why Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting rampage is open to speculation. How it is he succeeded in killing and injuring innocent people, isn’t.

Unlike many schools across the Country, both public and private—including preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, as well as colleges and universities—it is abundantly clear that one School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had woefully inadequate security. The lack of adequate security gave the killer an open invitation to visit harm on the School, and he took full advantage of security deficiencies to wreak havoc–with immediacy and ferocity–on innocent students and teachers alike.

Three Critical Failures Led To Horrific Tragedy

The First Failure

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, blames the NRA at CCN pretend town hall debate.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, blames the NRA at CNN pretend town hall debate.

The Board of Education of Marjory Stoneman Douglas employed one (1) Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy at the School, dubbed the “School Resource Officer.” Apparently, that was the only security provided. Once Nikolas Cruz began his rampage through the School, murdering both students and teachers, Deputy Sheriff Scott Peterson, hunkered down behind a barrier, outside the School, his handgun drawn. But, he never ventured inside the School to confront the shooter. A few more Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived soon after. They, too, never ventured inside the School even though Peterson repeatedly said gunshots were coming from inside the School building.

Once the Coral Springs Police SWAT team arrived, the members were aghast to find Broward County Sheriffs’ Deputies huddled together outside the School—none had entered the School, to stop the shooter. And where was he? Unlike many mass shooting incidents, the killer in the Parkland, Florida incident, Nikolas Cruz, obviously didn’t have a personal death wish even as he dealt death on others. He left the School Building, blending in with other students. He was later apprehended by an Officer from the Coconut Creek Police Department.

The Second Failure

Both the Broward County Sheriff (‘BSO’) Scott Israel and the Miami Office of the FBI received a substantial number of tips, warning of the erratic behavior of Nikolas Cruz through the months, weeks, and even days leading up to the tragedy, but neither the FBI nor the Sheriff acted on the tips. In fact, the BSO Scott Israel received 45 tips involving the danger Nikolas Cruz posed to the community, but did nothing. Ever the politician, Scott Israel blames others under his command for his own failures to protect his community and not surprisingly has rebuffed calls for his resignation. The FBI doesn’t escape unscathed from the failure to act, either. The Miami Herald reports the FBI delivered an official apologyAn official apology from the FBI may be extraordinary, but it hardly suffices and comes across as lame. Governor Rick Scott called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to step down. He won’t.

The Third Failure

The High School did not inform the police about dangerous students. This undoubtedly speaks to President Barack Obama’s legacy policy.

The City Journal reports:

“In an effort to combat the “school to prison pipeline,” schools across the country have come under pressure from the federal government and civil rights activists to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and in-school arrests. The unintended consequences of pressuring schools to produce ever-lower discipline statistics deserve much more examination.  

Florida’s Broward County, home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, was among the leaders in this nationwide policy shift. According to Washington Post reporting, Broward County schools once recorded more in-school arrests than any other Florida district.”  

President Trump and his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, must change a previous Administration’s nonsensical policy.

What Is Being Done To Address Woefully Ineffective And Inadequate Security Systems In Many Of Our Nation’s Schools?

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida tragedy, the Florida State Legislature drafted legislation in the hope of preventing future tragedies. The bill, titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act (2018 Bill Text FL S.B. 7026), was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on Friday, March 9, 2018. Other States are in the process of drafting and enacting their own bills. In all instances, the question that must be asked is this: Does legislation to prevent future school tragedies truly address the issue of school safety or is school safety merely the pretext to further restrict legitimate firearms’ rights of the average, rational, law-abiding citizen? A quick look at the Florida Act leads one to conclude that at least a couple of features of the Act have nothing to do with School safety and everything to do with gun control. Evidence of the insertion of antigun agenda policies exists in the Florida Act: the imposition of a three-day waiting period between the date of purchase and receipt of any firearmand age constraints as no person under the age of 21 may purchase any firearm.

If legislation is truly designed to prevent future tragedy in schools, then legislation should be directed to and limited to that effort.

What Does A Responsive, Responsible, And Credible School Security Plan Consist Of?

Two important points must be addressed before discussing corrective actions for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or for that matter, any other school in this Country. First, no security system, regardless of sophistication and refinement, is worth the cost of its design and implementation if those charged with its operation provide half-hearted efforts to see to it that the system functions at optimum efficiency, reliability, and effectiveness. Second, where systemic failures exist, lives will always be at risk.

The School Resource Officer, Deputy Sheriff Scott Peterson, who did not confront the shooter, is a coward; no question about it; and the other Deputy Sheriffs who arrived soon after the shooting began, did not confront the shooter either. Their inaction or inappropriate action amounts to ineptitude and gross incompetence at least; and abject cowardice at worst. Our takeaway: even the inclusion of armed security personnel in the design of a security system—which ought to be considered a critical aspect of an effective security system—is of no value if security personnel lack both the requisite training and ability to counter a threat or, otherwise, are physically or psychologically unsuited to the task of confronting a deadly threat quickly, stalwartly, and forcefully.

What Should An Effective School Security System Consist Of?

The expression, ‘hardening,’ of security defenses of a school often comes up in discussion. What does this mean? As we use the expression, it means that an effective security system—a truly effective security system—must be multilayered and multifaceted. Such a security system should consist ofthree primary layers or facets. The first layer consists of an array of “passive” technological and non-technological features, implemented throughout the school or incorporated into the structure of the school. See the Arbalest Quarrel article, Part One on School Safety. A second layer consists of both armed and unarmed personnel, monitoring and patrolling the school building and school grounds. A third layer requires involvement of students, faculty, and administrators and requires, too, the active involvement of the community at large. If erratic dangerous behavior is perceived in a student, that behavior should be reported to the appropriate senior school official or officials who must assess the level of risk and notify police officials if necessary or provide counseling for that individual. And, if, or when, an active threat occurs, students, teachers, school administrators, and security personnel must have a plan of action and must be prepared to execute that plan of action immediately.

In our next article we will look at each of these facets of security in more depth.


Find out what your State and local government officials have done to make all the schools in your community—preschool; elementary, middle and high schools; technical schools, and colleges and universities—safe.

This, ultimately, is your responsibility. If your government officials have taken no action or minimal action or are reluctant to discuss the issue with you at all, then you must join with other members of your community to make sure your government officials are responsive to and do listen to your concerns and that they address the issue of school security. After all, these Government officials work for you. not for themselves, and they owe it to you to make sure that the life and well-being of your children are safe. There is no excuse for delay. Don’t wait for your child to become another statistic!

Copyright © 2018 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.

About The Arbalest Quarrel:

Arbalest Group created `The Arbalest Quarrel’ website for a special purpose. That purpose is to educate the American public about recent Federal and State firearms control legislation. No other website, to our knowledge, provides as deep an analysis or as thorough an analysis. Arbalest Group offers this information free.

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Steve G.

Colombine was the Wake Up Call to ALL Law Enforcement agencies. This wasn’t a “failure of training”. Every LE agency in America gets Active Shooter training. Here in Alabama such training is done at the Police Academy and all Alabama agencies are now required to train AND document in service Active Shooter training. This was a derelict of duty and of cowardice. Plain and simple. I personally know that “officers” such as Peterson (calling him an officer is a slap in the face to real officers) do exist. They need to be identified and unemployed.

Wild Bill

@SteveG, Why do we allow politicians, Constitution haters, and other toxic employees on police forces? Has the security of any public schools in America been been improved to armed security forces and concealed carry teachers, since Colombine? Or is the can just being kicked down the road?

Manfred Stanfield

Thank you for this great article. You are right on the money. This is exactly what I have been thinking and saying based on the limited details distributed my the main stream media. The SRO was a worthless coward that could not do the job that he was hired to do. His job was not to walk around school looking cool and important while carrying a gun. His job was to protect the kids and staff when the SHTF. It is such a shame to that he just stood around waiting for the gunshots to stop before doing anything. And… Read more »

Jim Macklin

The assumption that GFSZ are intended to increase safety is wrong. The people that created the monster want death and violence because that promotes their goal of gun control until ALL guns are confiscated.


Gun FREE Zone, Guess Who Had The GUN


“Gun Free Zone”=”Soft Targets”=”Targeted Killing Fields”= “Criminal Dream”.


the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act did not improve, it decreased, safety. It created Certified Defenseless Victim Zones. Makes putative victims mere carp in a barrel. Repeal that stupid law. Then, adopt a programme similar to Ohio’s FASTER, which puts specially trained and qualified armed adults, who are already AT the schools daily, and who already HAVE their Mother May I Cards and carry everywhere BUT school, to also now carry AT SCHOOL, unmarked, unidentified, doing what they already to all day long but now with a handgun upon their persons. And this programme is in place and working… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Tad, an accurate statement, amusingly told!


Great true article the facts are all there ,the school system, FBI, and the Sheriff’s department all failed to do their job. I feel for the students, families and parents for their loss, but they all need to focus on the problems at hand , And Not put blame on those who have nothing to do with what happened, and stop going after law biding gun owners and the NRA, who may be the one’s to stop this tragedy from happening again. As a parent and grandfather, if I heard gun fire, If it be at a school or some… Read more »


Good points! Thank you! If I heard gun fire at the school, i would be there as well, armed of course, to protect my child. Then I would be arrested because of the gun free school law, or maybe officers would think I am the shooter and kill my american, white patriotic rear end! When our schools go on lock down, we as parents cant get our children out of the school. We cant patrol the perimeter with a firearm, but maybe with a slingshot. Then the problem exists that I havent fired one of those in years and am… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Mike, The Fat Boy Institute chain of command is upside down. The rank and file are trying to get the job done, while the people at the top are failing to investigate, preening around, and trying to negate the agenda of the American People. Fire McCabe before he qualifies for a LEO/firefighter retirement.

Wild Bill

“Unarmed targets are easy targets.” Julius Caesar this day in 44 BC. “The government has no duty to protect individual citizens.” Brutus Two minutes later. 44 BC

Andy Buckmichael

Typical useless, gutless cops. They should have been the ones taking the bullets.


You’ve been around before and are a troll who offers nothing constructive. Go away, no one here wants to hear your crap.

Wild Bill

@AB, Come on Andy, tell us what you did that brought you into contact with law enforcement. Did they grab you by your stacking swivel and reorient your azimuth?

Steve G

Completely agree! Well written article by the gents at the AQ!

Green Mtn. Boy

That’s a understatement however the abject failure of the government / authorities in addressing 39 or what number of calls,not to mention the FBI,the school obtaining a no trespass order with bags/backpacks. Some one had to have a clue,his fellow students knew he was a time bomb.


That’s all true and is usually the case of “hindsight being…”. However, the very first step in a good defense is being able to repel an armed invader. Unfortunately that is where the most resistance is met. Until we can overwhelmingly convince everyone that
Gun Free Zones = Murder Zones we’ll never truly begin on a corrective path.


The real travesty is that this kid had been involved in FOUR separate incidents that were “disabling” in regards possession of firearms, but they were not reported as the incidents they were to FBI/NICS. Three were disqualifying crimes, the fourth was a non-consensual admission into a mental instutution for a period of more than 72 hours…. that is a disqualifying event and will return a DENY code from NICS…. PROVIDED that informationi is in the database underlying NICS. In this kid’s case, the locals preferred to qualify for the $54Mn grant for “reducing their arrest rates” in that jurisdiction. They… Read more »