The coward of the county

“Fear has its use, but cowardice has none.”

Mahatma Gandhi said that.

It’s always been one of my favorite quotes because it’s so incredibly accurate.

I’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time on a few occasions, yet somehow managed to muddle through and do my job even though I was mainlining adrenaline.

The fear was definitely there, but it was strangely beneficial.

Real fear sharpens the senses and provides clarity of thought. Real fear is a tool. It’s difficult to comprehend its impact unless you’ve been through it.

I never conquered my fear. I somehow harnessed it because I needed to act. The whole process occurred in nanoseconds. Afterward, when everything was clear, I got the shakes as the adrenaline wore off.

Real fear is powerful, but if it’s not handled correctly it can be deadly.

I’ve seen a state trooper miss a gun-toting bad guy from five feet away — miss by a mile — with a shotgun. Thankfully, the bad guy was so scared by the buckshot passing harmlessly over his head that he threw down his weapon and surrendered.

I’ve also seen people freeze like a statue and then come to their senses after a bit.

And then there’s Broward County Deputy Scott Peterson, the school resource officer assigned to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High campus.

Peterson waited outside the school as a madman inside murdered 17 people.

To be clear, Peterson never went in. He never marched toward the gunfire as cops have been taught to do since Columbine.

He just stood there waiting for God knows what.

Every gunshot Peterson heard was a human life being snuffed out.

Why didn’t he do anything?

He certainly had more than enough time to come to his senses and react.

In my humble opinion, he’s just a damn coward.

Peterson represents the worst sort of law enforcement officer — the type whom you can’t rely on when he’s needed most — when lives are on the line — because he’s only there to pick up a paycheck — a substantial paycheck. He made more than $100,000 last year in salary and overtime. He’ll make around $75,000 per year now that he was forced to retire.

Peterson has been an SRO since 1991, and was named Florida’s SRO of the year in 1994. He’s had stellar performance reviews.

Of course none of that matters now. Seventeen lives were lost because of his malfeasance.

He’s an embarrassment to anyone who’s ever had a badge in their billfold. He’s a stain on a noble profession — a cancer in uniform who should have been cut out years ago.

I really question where Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel goes from here.

I don’t know how he comes back from this — how he can ever regain his citizens’ trust.

This is the worst act I’ve ever seen committed by an LEO, and it occurred on Sheriff Israel’s watch.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Sheriff Israel showed his true colors, AFAIC, when he dissed Dana Loesch at the CNN free-4-all the other night. Loesch is marvelously articulate and has her facts in hand whenever she opens her mouth. She called the sheriff’s attention to several balls that were dropped by his department and the FBI in regard to clues Cruz dropped before he killed 17 people. Sheriff Israel’s response drove right by the actual question and simply stated Cruz was the one responsible for the murders. OK, no issue there. But law enforcement’s failure to digest and act on the tips brought to its attention made those agencies involved — BSD and FBI — enablers and culpable in the murders, regardless of their denials. Unfortunately that is the story in a lot of the recent shooting incidents: law enforcement incompetence in the event, but awfully good at covering its six after the fact.

  2. What’s your take on the entire Orlando Police department that did the exact same thing at the Pulse nightclub mass shooting? They waited about an hour before going in and even puled two officers OUT of the club that had gone in when they first arrived.

  3. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of one’s fear. Anyone who tells you they never feel fear is either lying to you or to themselves.But when you put on a uniform, whether you are a LEO, in the military, a firefighter, or any number of other critical professions. you make a social contract that essentially states that you will master your fear to serve and protect others. Period.

    This individual should have never been in that uniform, and he sure shouldn’t have been assigned to a duty position with the responsibility of protecting young people. Too many times the SRO is considered a cushy position for someone who has an “in” with the department leadership. This guy should be considered an accessory to murder.

  4. As bad as the deaths were, I wonder if a few could have been saved by stemming the blood loss had the “First Responders” entered on arrival when seconds count. That would add to the shame.

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