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Politics and Government

Broward County, FL officials share experience of mass shootings with Onondaga County

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Col. David Holmes, center left, with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office met with Onondaga County’s school safety task force.";s:

Law enforcement officials with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida met with Onondaga County’s school safety task force last week. The officials shared their experience with two separate shooting incidents that happened in south Florida in recent years.

Onondaga County’s school safety task force was formed in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Col. David Holmes with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said that incident, along with a shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, taught them the importance of planning, training and communicating with other law enforcement agencies and civilians.

“You can’t get enough of it," Holmes said. "No one expects for tragedy to happen. But if you can mitigate as much as possible, it can save lives.”

In addition to training among law enforcement agencies, Holmes said they also need the public to feel comfortable with sharing information to them. He said different smartphone apps allow residents to provide tips to law enforcement, if they think something is wrong.

"Those type of things are very critical in preventing situations from happening," Holmes said. "Can it prevent everything from happening? Probably not. But if it can prevent one tragedy from happening and save one life, it's worth it."

Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway said it’s a struggle to find the time to get all the different law enforcement agencies on the same page for active shooter training.

“You need to be thinking about what could happen this afternoon, now," Conway said. "In a world in law enforcement, where so many things are put in front of us, the focus on training and preparation, cannot be allowed to be forced down the list of priorities.” 

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said the school safety task force continues to meet regularly. One priority is to get students to alert school administrators or police if they think something is wrong or someone could be a threat. Students can submit tips anonymously on the tip411 app, by text message or social media.