Fabiola Santiago

Want a big raise, BSO cops? Next school shooting, act with competence, not cowardice.

In the middle of contract negotiations — and aiming for a big raise despite their pitiful performance during the Valentine’s Day school massacre in Parkland — Broward Sheriff's deputies issued a “no confidence” vote Thursday on Sheriff Scott Israel.

But the officers should look in the mirror.

It is in them that we don’t trust.

BSO officers, first to reach the scene, reacted to the sounds of rapid gunfire inside a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building with what can only be labeled as cowardice and incompetence.

They — armed and trained police — took cover behind their cars and trees, leaving unarmed educators and kids to play the role of heroes who faced the wrath of former student Nikolas Cruz and his AR-15 rifle.

Brave teachers and students sacrificed their safety — and their lives — to save others while the cops waited long enough for Cruz to abandon his assault weapon, mingle with evacuating students and flee.

Seventeen teachers and students lost their lives and 17 more were injured — the worst school shooting in Florida.

And now the police union is clamoring for a hefty raise for these officers?

They hardly deserve it —– and Israel is right to call foul.

The vote by the International Union of Police Associations’ labor union, Israel wrote in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “is a transparent political stunt intended — in the middle of union contract negotiations — to shamelessly use the Parkland tragedy to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise this year from our agency.”

If anyone deserves a raise, it’s the Coral Springs police officers who didn’t hold back when they arrived on the scene and immediately rushed to the freshman 1200 building where the shooting took place.

They’re rightfully credited with saving the lives of the injured. Had it been left to BSO response, some of the injured might not be with us now — and the death tally would have been much higher.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Michael Laughlin Sun Sentinel

We also owe Coral Springs police a debt of gratitude for breaking the “blue wall of silence” by which some police operate and issuing truthful reports that chronicle and substantiate what videos also show: the incompetence of BSO and their lack of bravery. This extends well beyond the sole officer assigned to the school, Scot Peterson, who didn’t go into the building either, lost his job and is under internal investigation.

The BSO lame excuses for failing to track down Cruz or aid the victims: They were waiting for SWAT to arrive. They didn’t know from where Cruz was shooting.

Both excuses have been shot down by Coral Springs officers.

“I was advised by an unknown BSO Deputy taking cover behind a tree, 'he is on the third floor,’ ” Officer Bryan Wilkins wrote in his report.

How did Wilkins react? "I drove up just west of the campus building 1200, exited my vehicle, grabbed my AR-15 rifle and donned on my tactical/medical gear."

Likewise, Coral Springs Sgt. Nick Mazzei confirms in his report that he saw BSO deputies “taking positions” outside the school, but he rushed past them to intervene.

Doesn’t that just make your blood boil? Imagine what it does to the loved ones of the victims.

BSO has a contract to police Parkland, but it miserably failed when the town needed them most.

Instead of calling for Israel's head, as some of the state's NRA-loving leadership is doing because Israel supports an assault-weapons ban, the least BSO officers can do in the aftermath of failure is show some dignity and take a modest cost-of-living increase. Leave the chief to the voters who elected him and will decide his fate in 2020.

Based on their response to the shooting, BSO deputies don’t deserve a dime in pay raises.

Want a big raise?

At the next mass shooting, act with competence, not cowardice. Save lives.

You know, live up to that pledge to serve and protect — and then we can talk money.

Follow me on Twitter @fabiolasantiago

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