It pays to be cowardly, it seems — at least, for Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Scot Peterson, the deputy who was captured on video hiding outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building as shooter Nikolas Cruz tore up the inside and killed 17, has been granted a pension — a taxpayer-funded pension — of $8,702 per month. It just doesn’t seem right, does it?
That’s more than what some non-hiding, non-cowardly cops get when they’re fresh on the job.
Peterson, facing outrage for what even President Donald Trump called an act of cowardice, resigned in late February, a week after the shooting that also left another 17 injured.
He started receiving the pension payments in April and will continue to do so very likely for the rest of his life.
The pension amounts are figured via a formula from his regular salary plus overtime; the Sun-Sentinel reports he received $101,879 in the last year of his 32 years of police service.
If Peterson had been convicted of a crime, he wouldn’t be entitled to his pension. But so far so good on that count. Sheriff Scott Israel, who launched an investigation into Peterson’s actions — or lack of, really — found that the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.” And Andrew Pollack, the father of one victim, named Peterson in a wrongful death suit he filed a few weeks ago. But the state attorney hasn’t yet charged Peterson with any crime. And it’s too early to tell if a state commission, in the midst of reviewing Peterson’s response to the shooting, will identify any criminal behaviors that could stop his pension.
Pollack, who lost his daughter in the Parkland tragedy, said this of Peterson, in the Sun-Sentinel: “This guy is a disgrace. … He’s a disgrace and a coward,” and “there’s nothing we can do about” his pension.
Quite right on that. But the law is the law, and that goes for laws guiding the disbursement and receipt of pension plans, too. That’s not the same as saying justice has been served, though. And in this case, law and justice seem separated by a very wide chasm.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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