Parents to Sue Broward Sheriff's Office for Failing to Provide Protection
As we've already discussed in detail, here and here, police agencies are not under any general legal obligation to protect the taxpaying public from criminal behavior. The motto "to protect and serve" is an advertising slogan.
Moreover, police agencies are also protected by immunity laws from lawsuits in regards to police abuse or lack of action.
However, in the case of last month's shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, a Sheriff's deputy had specifically been assigned to provide security services at the school. This, apparently open up the Sheriff's office to legal action. Reuters reports on how at least one student who survives the massacre has announced a plan to sue to partially offset medical costs:
Law enforcement officers are generally immune to legal claims over inaction, as courts have held they need to be able to make decisions without fear of liability.
However, the Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Sheriff Scot Peterson could fall under a “special relationship” exception because Peterson was specifically assigned to protect Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University who has written a book on gun litigation.
“The children and teachers justifiably relied on him and his unique level of knowledge to protect them,” Lytton said.
The deputy’s failure to enter the school during the shooting has added to criticism of law enforcement officials over warnings that accused shooter Nikolas Cruz posed a threat.
This may be the only legal option for the students and parents seeking legal reparations from either the school of law enforcement agencies.
Government schools are generally immune from lawsuits claiming insufficient security, as well.
Overall, though, there is little reason to expect schools to start taking security seriously until they are held legally accountable for providing meaningful security on their premises.