Seizing on a teachable moment and the chance for a little publicity, Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree said Tuesday that his deputies are expected to take immediate action, rather than wait for backup, if they encounter an active shooter.
Murphree's directive comes 13 days after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot and killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson was at the school when Cruz began shooting but stayed outside in the parking lot during the attack. Peterson quit the sheriff's office last week amid public criticism. President Trump referred to him as a coward on national TV.
While the Denton sheriff didn't mention Peterson by name in his missive to employees, he made it clear that he doesn't want anyone imitating the Florida deputy's response to a shooter. His letter was posted to all of the Denton County Sheriff's Office's social media accounts:
“With the recent tragedy in Florida, I wanted to make clear my policy on responding to an active shooter. All commissioned Deputies if you respond to an active shooter you are expected to take immediate action. We do not stage and wait for SWAT, we do not take cover in a parking lot, and we do not wait for another agency. We go in and do our duty. We go in to engage and stop the shooter and save lives. If for any reason you can not follow this directive please inform your supervisor and we will work to get you re-assigned."
“Thank you for all you do every day!!”
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Denton County voters elected Murphree in 2016. During his campaign for sheriff, he made headlines for saying he would beat up any transgender woman who used a restroom at the same time as his daughter. Murphree apologized and won 85 percent of the vote.