Just as Lt. Gen. Russel Honore marched into New Orleans amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina, another Black man is the voice of calm and order following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday—one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.
It has been widely noted that the shooting was preventable. However, various departments inside and outside the school system saw red flags about the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, but failed to share their information. Robert Runcie, the Broward County Public Schools superintendent, appeared Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press and explained what needs to be done.
“We need a smarter system… where various agencies, departments, school systems, are working in an integrated, collaborative fashion to ensure we can share data, share information to enhance our level of effectiveness,” he told the host Chuck Todd. “Folks are working as hard as we can. But we’re working in silos.”
Cruz confessed to the police that he went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He hid loaded gun magazines in a black duffel bag and backpack for his semiautomatic AR-15 rifle and entered the school, where he killed 17 people.
Runcie, a Jamaica native who grew up in New York, oversees the nation’s sixth largest school district, which educates more then 270,000 students in 337 schools. A Harvard graduate, Runcie was the first member of his family to attend college.
In a previous interview, Runcie raised concerns about the failure to address mental health, as reports emerged that Cruz exhibited violent outbursts and self-destructive behavior. The growing problem of mental illness “is something that is certainly going to need to be addressed within our school systems, as well as in the broader society — to ensure that these kind of tragedies do not continue,” he stated, according to the Miami Herald.
Runcie vowed to have an “enhanced law enforcement presence” at Douglas High School, as well as counseling and other resources available for students, staff and faculty. Teachers are expected to return by the end of the week, and students are tentatively scheduled to return on Feb. 26.