Soul Searching

Looking inward, what kind of a cop are you?
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)

On Wednesday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a deranged young man, Nikolas Cruz, orchestrated a violent assault on hundreds of teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. In the aftermath of his attack, 17 people, including 14 children, lay dead. Another 16 were wounded; some critically. There were many other victims to be sure, as many were traumatized, and perhaps scarred for life.

At 1420 hours, the assailant shot his victims as they spilled out into the hallways at the end of the school day, firing his semi-automatic AR-15 into the crowd, he was guaranteed multiple hits. Cruz reportedly threw down his weapon after it jammed and fled the scene, blending in with hundreds of panicked teenagers exiting the building. It bothers me, and perhaps we’ll learn more going forward, that one of the young girls was shot nine times on Valentine’s Day! From a cop’s angle, that sounds personal.

Most of us are aware by now how the FBI dropped the ball. We’re also aware that there were dozens of calls for police at the Cruz home. There were multiple reports to the police and FBI that Cruz didn’t seem stable. His Facebook post pertaining to becoming a “school shooter” one day, was particularly troubling.

Immediately, “gun control” advocates started to demand stricter laws that would not have changed a thing. An experienced shooter, with combat reloading, could have done as much damage with a 9mm handgun. Both weapons, as we know, are one pull of the trigger, one bullet fired. Cruz didn’t even use large-capacity magazines. The 9mm round is larger than the rifle’s .223, potentially causing even more carnage. AR-15s are also known to jam more than a good quality pistol. Advertised gun-free zones should be abolished. Did you know that the theater shooter, during the Batman movie in Colorado, searched for a theater that was in a “gun-free” zone before choosing his target? He drove a distance, passing two other theaters that were not “gun-free” because that’s what cowards do! How brave would they be with bullets coming back in their direction?

Now let’s learn and look inward since this attack. We all have read that SRO (School Resource Officer) Scot Peterson never went inside the building to confront the suspect. We also came to find out that there were three other sheriff’s officers on scene who also didn’t enter the building. It was the Coral Springs police officers, accompanied by one Sunrise officer and two Miramar officers, who first went into the building according to reports. It is suggested by many, including me, that Scot Peterson is a coward and a disgrace to the uniform. How many cops in this country, having the tragedy of the Newtown massacre still fresh in their minds, would’ve changed places with Officer Peterson without blinking an eye? Unarmed teachers/coaches threw themselves in front of students knowing the danger; how could an armed officer who took an oath to protect people and property stand idly by?

Years ago, we often were told to “set up a perimeter” and wait for back-up and/or SWAT, but all of that changed after Columbine. The new mantra became, don’t wait! Stop the threat before more children are killed! On the day of the shooting, my daughter was 16 years old, so I couldn’t stop thinking, what if my daughter was in that school? You would all run in if it were your child, so why should it be any different for someone else’s? Broward County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jan Jordan, reportedly gave an order to “stage a perimeter” around the school (guess she didn’t get the memo). That order certainly wouldn’t have stopped me from going in, and I don’t think it would’ve stopped many of you either.

When I was a patrolman, we worked mostly one-man radio cars, so we were told to wait for back-up on domestic violence cases. I never waited for back-up, however, because I theorized that I had a better chance against a violent attacker than the victim did. On the other side of the coin, I’ve witnessed officers who would wait for a red traffic light when responding to certain 911 calls. I’m not suggesting that any of you routinely disregard your department’s policy, but in this case, are you a social worker, or perhaps just a report writer? To be a good cop, you need three things; a badge, a gun, and a pair of balls! (Men and Women!)

Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (, and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.