Miramar, FL – The Miramar Police Department has suspended two officers from their SWAT team for responding to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting without having orders to do so.
When the first reports of an active shooter came out, the Miramar officers were in training in Coral Springs, nearby the Parkland high school, and they rushed to assist in stopping the carnage that left 17 students and faculty fatally shot, and another 16 wounded, on Valentine’s Day, the Miami Herald reported.
The police response to the mass shooting at the school – specifically that of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office – has been highly criticized for the incident commander’s failure to use updated active-shooter response methods.
Broward County Sheriff’s Captain Jan Jordan has been criticized for ordering officers to set up a perimeter rather than sending them in to stop the shooter, whose whereabouts were still unknown.
Several police officers and medics have reported that they believed more lives were lost because the incident commander wouldn’t let them respond earlier.
Some critics have called the officers who stayed outside and waited for permission to enter “cowards,” but now Miramar police are punishing two members of their own elite unit who did rush toward danger to try to save students’ lives.
Miramar Police Detectives Jeffrey Gilbert and Carl Schlosser were suspended from the Miramar SWAT team eight days after the shooting in Parkland, according to the Miami Herald.
Both remain on active duty with the department, but working in different capacities, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“Effective immediately you have been suspended from the SWAT Team until further notice,” Miramar SWAT team commander Captain Kevin Nosowicz wrote in a Feb. 22 memo. “Please make arrangements with the training department to turn in your SWAT-issued rifle.”
The memo said Det. Gilbert and Det. Schlosser acted “without the knowledge or authorization from your chain of command” and created an “officer safety situation due to dispatch not knowing your location or activity” by heading to the massacre-in-progress independently.
A Miramar PD spokesperson told Blue Lives Matter, “Miramar PD had numerous officers and a victim advocate respond, without incident. The two SWAT officers temporarily suspended from the SWAT team, but not active duty, were not suspended for responding, but for NOT advising that they responded. They did not advise prior to self-dispatching, during the incident, nor immediately following. This is an officer safety issue, a violation of policy and goes against incident command training and the best practices learned from other mass casualty / shooting incidents.”
The Broward County police union disagreed strongly with discipline being levied against the detectives.
“While it may have been a violation of policy to not notify their supervisors that they were going there, their intentions were brave and heroic, I think,” Broward County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Jeff Marano told the Sun-Sentinel on Wednesday.
But Broward County law enforcement officials have said that it’s more important to have an organized response to an emergency situation, after more than 2,000 officers responded to the scene of an active shooter at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6, 2017.
The after-action report of the incident, which left five people dead and six others wounded, recommended a unified command structure with better communication in the future, to combat confusion caused by a massive influx of law enforcement officers to the scene, according to the Miami Herald.
Miramar Police Public Information Officer Tania Rues told the Miami Herald in an email that her department had dispatched several uniformed officers and a victim advocate to “assist” Broward County sheriff’s deputies at the high school.
However, Rues said the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) had said it did not need assistance from Miramar’s SWAT team.
“Miramar Police command staff placed our SWAT team on stand-by pending a request for additional assistance from BSO,” Rues wrote in the email. “[BSO] did not make a request for Miramar’s SWAT team based on their need at the time.”
Miramar Police Officer Kevin Gonzalez also was suspended from the SWAT team after having been accused of being linked to several social media posts that put the city and police in a negative light, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Officer Gonzalez was suspended for violating the department’s social media policy and the code of conduct, Rues said.
A source told the Miami Herald that the posts questioned why Miramar’s SWAT team was not sent to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz, and said that the posts may have been made by Gonzalez’s girlfriend.