Os­tra­cized Park­land deputy gets $100K-a-year pen­sion

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - John Ba­con

The Florida deputy sher­iff con­demned by his boss and Pres­i­dent Trump for fail­ing to con­front a gun­man who killed 17 peo­ple at a high school in Park­land has be­gun col­lect­ing a life­time pen­sion of more than $100,000 a year.

Scot Peter­son, the re­source of­fi­cer at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High dur­ing the shoot­ings on Valen­tine’s Day, be­gan re­ceiv­ing his monthly check for $8,702.35 in April, the Florida Depart­ment of Man­age­ment Ser­vices said in a state­ment.

“Broward County State At­tor­ney Michael Satz ver­i­fied that there were no charges filed against Mr. Peter­son that would cause him to for­feit those ben­e­fits per Florida law,” the state­ment said. The depart­ment said it would mon­i­tor a state in­ves­ti­ga­tion into law en­force­ment’s re­sponse to the as­sault.

For­mer stu­dent Niko­las Cruz, 19, is ac­cused of the dead­li­est high school shoot­ing in Amer­i­can his­tory. Peter­son rushed to the building but stayed out­side dur­ing the at­tack.

Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael said Peter­son should have “went in, ad- dressed the killer, killed the killer.”

Trump de­scribed Peter­son’s be­hav­ior as “dis­gust­ing” and said the deputy “choked.”

But, he said, “you never know un­til you’re tested.”

Peter­son, 55, started work­ing for the sher­iff ’s of­fice in 1985. He spent the past nine years as the high school re­source of­fi­cer, ap­pointed to keep the school and its stu­dents safe. He was praised in per­for­mance re­views — for the pe­riod from Fe­bru­ary 2016 to Fe­bru­ary 2017, he was rated as ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions in skills such as critical think­ing and decision-mak­ing.

In 2016, his an­nual salary was more than $75,600, over­time push­ing it to about $100,000. His pen­sion is based on his years of ser­vice and the av­er­age of the five high­est-paid years.

Peter­son’s lawyer said his client was un­fairly de­scribed as a “cow­ard” for fol­low­ing pro­to­col. Joseph DiRuzzo said Peter­son be­lieved the gun­man was fir­ing out­side the school, not in­side.

“Al­le­ga­tions that Mr. Peter­son was a cow­ard and that his per­for­mance, un­der the cir­cum­stances, failed to meet the stan­dards of po­lice of­fi­cers are patently un­true,” DiRuzzo said.

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