PARKLAND, Fla. — A statewide panel created in response to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is now investigating what could have prevented the attack.
- Stoneman Douglas commission meets for 1s time Tuesday
- Panel includes members of law enforcement, parents of students
- Panel will determine what can be done to prevent similar incident
Commission members — some from the Central and Tampa areas — include representatives from Florida’s law enforcement, education and mental health communities.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is chairman. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Brevard County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Desmond Blackburn are also commission members.
Members with the closest connections to the tragedy are three fathers who lost their children in the Valentine’s Day attack.
Ryan Petty’s daughter Aliana was killed, as was Max Schachter’s son, Alex, and Andrew Pollack’s daughter, Meadow.
“I’m not going to sleep, and I don’t rest," Pollack said. "We’re going to get to the bottom of it and who is responsible. I want people held responsible for these acts that happened that day, and those who dropped the ball, and we’re going to be looking into everybody."
The panel is tasked with investigating what warning signs may have been missed that if caught, may have prevented the shooting in the first place.
"We have to make sure that we do it right," Gualtieri said. "Doing it fast isn’t necessarily in everyone’s best interests, especially when you’re talking about major policy changes, infrastructure changes, things that are a major shift. So, we have to make sure that we get it right, and in order to get it right, you have to have the background and you have to go through a process."
The commission is required to provide a preliminary report to the governor and legislature by January 2019, but the law allows it to continue its efforts until July 2023.
The commission was established through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a law passed just days after the massacre.
The law gives the panel full authority to subpoena witnesses to testify under oath and demand evidence it deems necessary.
The commission is tasked with investigating whether there were lapses in any processes that could have prevented the attack, then developing solutions to try to ensure a similar attack can't be repeated.
In addition to establishing the commission, Senate Bill 7026 raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old; prohibits a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective, or been committed to a mental institution, from temporarily owning or possessing a firearm; and enacted multiple safety processes to be implemented by schools.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission members
Appointed by Gov. Rick Scott:
- Sheriff Larry Ashley, of Okaloosa, is the Okaloosa County Sheriff. Ashley has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and has earned numerous awards and commendations during his career. He participated in the governor's emergency meetings to help develop the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
- Superintendent Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D., of Brevard County is the superintendent of Brevard Public Schools. He previously served as a teacher, principal, district trainer, director of school improvement, an area superintendent, and as the chief school performance and accountability office for the Broward County School District. Blackburn participated in the governor’s emergency meetings to help develop the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
- Chief Kevin Lystad, of Miami Shores, is the president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Lystad will serve as vice chair of the Commission.
- Ryan Petty, of Parkland, is the father of Aliana Petty, who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He played an integral role in ensuring the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act moved through the Florida Legislature.
- Andrew Pollack, of Parkland, is the father of Meadow Pollack, who was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Following the shooting, Pollack met with local, state and federal officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, to help create a plan to keep our schools safe.
Appointed by Florida Senate President Joe Negron:
- State Sen. Lauren Book is a child advocate, former classroom teacher and best-selling author. In 2016, she was elected to represent State Senate District 32, which includes portions of Broward County.
- Douglas Dodd is a member of the Citrus County School Board. He served in the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office for over 26 years, retiring as a captain. During his career in law enforcement, Dodd served as a school resource officer for 10 years.
- James Harpring is the undersheriff for Indian River County and serves as general counsel to the Sheriff’s Department. He also works as an adjunct professor at Indian River State College and as an instructor at the Treasure Coast Law Enforcement Academy.
- Melissa Larkin-Skinner is the chief executive officer at Centerstone Florida. As a licensed mental health counselor, she has almost 25 years of experience in mental health and addictions treatment programs, including hospital, outpatient, crisis, community based, forensic and child welfare services.
- Marsha Powers is a member of the Martin County School Board. She was elected to the School Board in 2012 and re-elected subsequently.
Appointed by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran:
- Max Schachter is the father of Alex Schachter, who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, Schachter advocated for school safety improvements and urged members of the Florida Legislature to enact effective legislation.
- Sheriff Grady Judd is the Sheriff of Polk County. Prior to becoming sheriff in 2004, Judd graduated from the FBI National Academy, as well as several other law enforcement academies, and taught 23 years at both the University of South Florida and Florida Southern College.
- Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is the Sheriff of Pinellas County and has served with the Sheriff’s Office for 35 years. Gualtieri also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Major County Sheriff’s Association and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast.
- Chief Assistant State Attorney Mr. Bruce Bartlett has served in the State Attorney’s Office for more than 22 years. Bartlett has prosecuted or taken part in the prosecutions of some of Pinellas County's most notorious criminals. He has practiced since 1979 and is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law.
- Chief Chris Nelson currently serves as the Chief of Police for Auburndale, a position he has held since 2012. A graduate of Bartow High School, he started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Bartow Police Department.
Additional commission members:
- Commissioner Rick Swearingen – Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Commissioner Pam Stewart – Florida Department of Education (ex officio)
- Secretary Mike Carroll – Florida Department of Children and Families (ex officio)
- Secretary Christina Daly – Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (ex officio)
- Secretary Justin Senior – Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (ex officio)