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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission met in Tallahassee Thursday to continue working on recommendations to be made after the deadly shooting.
But the biggest news from the meeting came from back in Broward County.
In a letter to the Commission, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told Commission members that the Broward School District is planning to make some major safety changes, many of which have been discussed and recommended by the Commission.
Specifically, the School District is discussing adding hard corners — or safe spaces — inside classrooms, allowing any school staff member to call a code red lockdown and giving the Broward Sheriff’s Office access to live video feeds from schools during threats.
“They’re extremely significant to making our schools safer,” said Lori Alhadeff, Broward School Board member and mother of victim, Alyssa. Alhadeff says hard corners, which create safe places in classrooms where students and teachers cannot be seen from windows or doors, might have saved her daughter.
“She was shot the first time,” Alhadeff said. “The shooter went across the hallway and he came back at her again and she didn’t move and she was in the direct line of fire. But if that hard corner was there she could have ran to that area and hypothetically could still be alive today.”
Gina Montalto was murdered at Stoneman Douglas. Her father, Tony, said he believes the work of the MSD commission pushed the Broward school district to make these safety changes and that the changes are long overdue.
“I’m disappointed that it took them almost 10 months to realize that something needed to be done,” he said. “I believe wholeheartedly that it was the Commission that pushed them to do this.”
The School District says the code red and hard corner policies were discussed at a school board workshop earlier this week. It will be a few weeks before they come before the board for a vote but we’re told the District will begin implementing them immediately.
The School District also announced they would hire an outside investigative firm to look into “whether Broward County Public Schools policies, procedures, professional standards, and quality of service measures were met in matters related to the shooting and the educational history of the shooter.” Montalto said this is another development that the families of the victims have been pushing for since the summer.
“It’s vitally important,” he said. “Why wait 10 months to begin your investigation on your own policies?”
There was other news that emerged from Thursday’s final day of Commission meetings in Tallahassee. For a large portion of the morning, Commissioners took up the issue of the law enforcement response in their draft recommendations. They criticized the actions of BSO Sergeant Brian Miller, the first ranking officer on scene who heard gunshots then took up a position away from the school and did not move.
“Sergeant Miller refused and failed to accept responsibility for the scene. Period.” said Commission Chairman Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
The commission also labeled BSO Parkland Captain Jan Jordan as “ineffective” and requested that BSO conduct an internal review of 7 deputies and their actions the day of the shooting. Jan Jordan has resigned from BSO and Sergeant Brian Miller has been placed on administrative duty.
The Commission also criticized BSO’s active shooter policy which says deputies “may” confront an active shooter, rather than “shall” confront an active shooter. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a Commission Member, said he believes that policy gave deputies cover to avoid going into the Freshman Building even though they heard shots being fired.
“They decided to be cowards rather than going in and being heroes,” Judd said.
The Commission wants BSO to change that policy.