Parkland, FL – The Broward County sheriff’s deputy, who resigned in disgrace after failing to enter the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and engage accused shooter Nikolas Cruz, will receive a pension that pays him more than he made while on the force last year. Surveillance footage and statements by other officers revealed that Peterson took cover outside the school as Cruz killed 17 students and staff inside a building.
Records from the Florida Department of Management Services, obtained by the Sun Sentinel, revealed that Peterson is expected to collect monthly payments of $8,700, which amounts to more than $104,000 per year— slightly more than the $101,879 he was paid last year. Roughly $75,600 was his base salary, with the remainder coming from overtime pay and other forms of compensation.
“The thing he was supposed to do — protect these children — he didn’t do,” Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine told the Miami Herald Tuesday. “Now he’s going to be paid by taxpayers for the rest of his life? It seems disgraceful.”
Incredibly, the Miami Herald reports that Peterson, who is 55, is eligible to collect his pension for the rest of his life, with Broward County tax payers being responsible for paying 50 percent of his health insurance premiums.
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow Pollack was killed by Cruz, angrily questioned how Peterson could be allowed to receive such a large pension given the allegations of cowardice.
“The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered!” he tweeted Tuesday night. “How in the hell is he getting this?”
The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered! How in the hell is he getting this?
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) May 16, 2018
Last month, Pollack filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson.
Peterson joined Broward County Sheriff’s Office as a detention deputy in 1985 and became a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2009.
A report by Reason explained why Peterson will receive such a substantial pension:
Peterson earned more than $101,000 during his final year of service, the Sun Sentinel reports. That includes about $75,600 in base salary, with the rest coming from overtime pay and other forms of compensation. As Reason has previously reported, Peterson had been the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009, and he had been an employee of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office since 1985.
That means Peterson put in at least 25 years at the job, an important threshold for accruing pension benefits under state law. The pensions afforded to Florida’s sheriffs are based on a calculation that starts with an average of the employee’s five highest-paid years. That average is then multiplied by a percentage that varies based on how many years an employee has worked and at what job.
Law enforcement employees and other public employees in so-called “high-risk” positions earn a multiplier of 3 percent for every year worked. (Other public workers earn a lower multiplier, usually 2 percent.) After 25 years of service, a law enforcement employee like Peterson would have earned a pension equal to 75 percent of the average of his five highest-paid years during his final 10 years of employment. Under Florida law, pension payouts are capped at 100 percent of this figure, which is known as a “final annual salary.”
The idea is that law enforcement puts their life in jeopardy, thus being handsomely rewarded for the risk. The problem with that premise is that Peterson, in reference to the Parkland school shooting, did exactly the opposite and chose to not risk his own life to save others.
Under Florida law, regardless of an officer’s performance in the line of duty, the pension payouts are nearly guaranteed; stipulating that public pensions are only revocable for felony “breach of the public trust,” including the specific crimes—embezzlement, theft, bribery, and child sexual assault.