On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott demanded that FBI Director Christopher Wray resign after the federal agency acknowledged it failed to follow standard procedures after receiving a tip in January about Nikolas Cruz, the man charged this week with killing 17 people at a Broward high school.
“Seventeen innocent people are dead, and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need.”
“We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI,” Scott continued. “And the FBI failed to act. ‘See something, say something’ is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement.”
“The FBI director needs to resign,” Scott said, mincing no words.
On Saturday, it was reported by the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel that Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigated Cruz after he cut himself in an online video.
“Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the DCF’s abuse hotline was told at 1:48 p.m. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.”
Cruz, then 18, was listed as an “alleged victim” of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his adoptive mother, then-68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the “alleged perpetrator.”
According to the Sentinel, a DCF’ investigation was completed that Nov. 12. Mental health center staff “came out and assessed the (victim and) found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the DCF report said.
In other words, DCF missed several warning signs, just like the FBI did.
If, as Scott has stated, an apology from the FBI will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain, an apology from DCF (sure to be forthcoming) won’t either.
Since the FBI, in Scott’s words, “failed to act,” so too, did DCF.
Scott is right when he says that, “people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement,” but so too must they have confidence in the follow through from social services.
If the FBI director needs to resign, as Scott believes — and this isn’t an argument for or against his resignation — then the person ultimately responsible for DCF’s failures must also resign. Not just Secretary Mike Carroll, but the person to whom he reports.
That would be Rick Scott.
“It is absurd and irresponsible to compare DCF’s investigation, completed nearly 18 months ago in response to allegations of caregiver abuse and neglect, with the FBI’s failure to do anything after receiving a tip last month that this individual would carry out a school shooting,” said McKinley Lewis, Scott’s Deputy Communications Director, in response to this post.
But if the federal government failed the victims of the Parkland shooting, so too did the state government.
Gov. Scott believes in holding people accountable.
Google “Rick Scott + accountable” and there are links to the Governor looking to hold accountable everyone from the shooter at the Ft. Lauderdale airport to Pitbull, from state Sen. Jack Latvala to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro.
Pledging to hold someone accountable when he’s asked about an issue or a controversy is Scott’s go-to move.
Well, it’s time to look in the mirror, Governor. Your troubled child welfare agency failed the 17 Floridians gunned down on Valentine’s Day. You must be held accountable.
A postscript to this post: Democratic political consultant Ben Pollara was the first to suggest that, by the standard Scott is holding the FBI to, shouldn’t Scott have resigned after twelve patients died of overheating at a nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma. Administrators there called Scott’s cellphone seeking assistance, but didn’t get them help to restore their air conditioning.
A second postscript in response to McKinley Lewis’ statement. I’ve spoken to at least one person who has seen the DCF report and they stand by their description.
I will acknowledge Cruz had received more attention than what is normally given in Florida’s rationed child services system, but it’s important to reread what Carol Marbin Miller wrote about DCF’s investigation of Cruz:
“The investigation appears to have lacked rigor: An exceptional student education specialist who worked with Cruz repeatedly declined to return phone calls from DCF’s adult protective services investigator. The school’s resource officer, a deputy, ‘refused to share any information’ at all, except to confirm that a mobile crisis unit had been out to the school to assess Cruz.
“Cruz himself also wouldn’t cooperate, saying that ‘he talked about the situation enough.’
“If Cruz had, in fact, been cutting himself that day, the investigator appears to have made little effort to confirm the allegation: The investigator, the report said, ‘was not able to see any scars or cuts on the [victim’s] arms because he was wearing long sleeves.’
“Henderson reported to DCF that Cruz “was not at risk to harm himself or others.”
Material from The Associated Press and the News Service of Florida was used in this post.