Why Was Security Footage from Fla. School Shooting on A Delay?

The significant delay led responding officers to believe they would be engaging in a shootout with the gunman when he had already left school property.

Why Was Security Footage from Fla. School Shooting on A Delay?

Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi says the delay did not affect efforts to rescue injured students.

Surveillance footage from last week’s deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was on a 26-minute delay, leading police to believe the gunman was still in the building long after he had fled the crime scene.

Responding officers braced for a shootout as they entered the building, thinking the gunfire they saw on security camera footage was live.

“He went from the third floor to the second floor … They’re monitoring him on camera,” an officer said on radio transmissions recorded by Broadcastify, an audio streaming website, at 2:54 p.m.

Police Captain Brad McKeone says 20 to 25 officers were on the first, second and third floors of the building when they believed the shooter was still inside.

“Somebody would say: ‘He’s on the second floor,’ and we had guys on the second floor saying: ‘We’re on the second floor, we don’t see him.’ That’s when we figured out there’s a tape delay,” recalled Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi.

Several other deterrents hampered police communication, including the fact that police initially could not get access to the security camera footage and couldn’t immediately find someone to help them. Police were also restricted by outmoded radios that left some transmissions inaudible.

Police attempted to look for armed school resource officer Scott Peterson as he “would be the one to have access to where the cameras are,” according to a police radio broadcast. Superintendent Robert Runcie says Peterson was on the 45-acre campus at the time of the shooting but was not in the targeted building.

Peterson resigned after video footage showed he did not enter the school building during the shooting, but instead took up a defensive position outside.

During the shooting, at approximately 2:56 p.m., a dispatcher warned all units that the radios were malfunctioning.

“You can hear me, but I cannot hear you, so standby,” he said.

Experts React to Video Delay

Pete Blair, a criminal justice professor and executive director of the active shooter response program at Texas State University, says the long delay is unusual.

“I’ve never heard of that problem before,” he said. “That’s going to slow you down because you think that’s good information, but it’s not good information.”

Paul Boucherle, a columnist for Campus Safety’s sister publication Security Sales & Integration and has been working in workplace violence education, risk assessments and strategies for over 20 years, says of the issue:

My take on this is that quality and timely communications are essential to any active shooter or workplace violence event. The video feed delay is puzzling and I would need more details to really understand that failure of delivering real-time information when it is needed the most by first responders. The radio communications issue is more troubling as funds were allotted in May last year and typical school upgrades are done during the summer so I’m not sure what to make of that issue.

Lastly while resource officers are a valuable addition to any school safety program, the reality is one officer covering an entire campus may not be optimal based on the size of the campus without equipping them with the right tools.

Bob Grossman, another frequent SSI contributor and president of consulting firm R. Grossman and Associates, says:

I agree with Pete Blair  [that] the long delay is unusual, and I’ve also never heard of this type of problem before.

Issues with remotely monitored systems are common in terms of delays or latency, but these are usually manifested by delays of no longer than a few seconds or dropped frames which cause a choppy image but no real delays. Assuming this is an IP based system (there’s no way to do a delay on an analog, tape-based system), I would suspect this is an error in how the system software was set up, or operator error.

It is as if they were monitoring the system through a TiVo box or cable box (or similar software function) that pauses live TV, and neglected to go back to live viewing.

According to a timeline provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the gunman began shooting into classrooms around 2:21 p.m. He continued to fire his weapon for seven minutes before fleeing the building. Police apprehended him more than a half hour after he had left school grounds.

Pustizzi says although the video delay complicated efforts to track down the shooter, it did not delay efforts to rescue injured students, according to CNN.

“We got in so fast, we’re pulling them out. It made it harder to identify where the guy was,” he said.

In May, Broward County commissioners approved a $59.5 million budget to replace the more than 25-year-old radio system. The new system won’t be ready to use until the end of this year, officials said at the time of the approval.

About the Author

Contact:

Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

Read More Articles Like This… With A FREE Subscription

Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

Get your free subscription today!


3 responses to “Why Was Security Footage from Fla. School Shooting on A Delay?”

  1. Mitch Cohen says:

    I have seen delays before. This is an unusually long delay, but I have seen as much as 5 to 8 minutes on some IP based systems.
    The delay is latency caused initially by some brands of cameras. After that, some DVRs and NVRs play back the recorded video on remote view, not live streaming.
    This prompted us to build our hosted solution using a low latency method of video transmission. Ou i-ACS system can’t make up for camera latency, but it reduces all other latency to within 2 seconds max.

  2. Joe says:

    Like almost everything else in this country we often find that the underlying issue is money. Whether is funds to train teachers to be proficient in firearm usage, or training for police officers, or video surveillance and other security systems, or the money for man(women)power to investigate tips, money is almost always a component. Or money to pay the insurance premiums to cover liability for failure to train or, in the case of armed teachers, to train too much. In so many mass shooting incidents we see situations where there was forewarning of potential threats that were not effectively investigated, or information shared. How can we understand why clear indicators were dealt with by moving a student from one school to another? This perpetrator was prohibited from bringing a back-pack into school. But if he had shown up with such a pack, and if there was a gun in it, who would have been in place and had the training, or ability to deal with that confrontation? More and better trained and equipped staff could have, but who was going to pay for it? Money again! Go ahead, call me a cynic, or better yet a psychic, because I clearly see into the future, and another preventable incident.

  3. Jumping Mouse says:

    Suggest watching Spokane Sheriff 22 + min. media interview on 2017 Spokane school shooting on youtube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety HQ