Lawmaker trying to block ‘derelict’ Parkland deputy Scot Peterson’s pension says he wants ‘accountability’

Outraged by what he sees as Scot Peterson’s failures as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre unfolded, state Rep. Spencer Roach wants to impose a severe financial penalty on the former Broward Sheriff’s deputy by terminating his $105,263 annual pension.

“This guy was derelict in his duty,” Roach said. “It was his duty to protect those people. He failed to do that,” he said, adding that his bill is “about accountability.”

Some family members of the 17 people killed and 17 injured in the Feb. 14 massacre applauded Roach’s legislative effort to go after Peterson’s pension.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow was among those murdered at the Parkland high school. “My sister had aspirations …. and that dream was wiped away from her by a sociopathic monster, and Peterson had a chance to go in and defend her.”

As word started spreading about the legislation, which Roach filed Tuesday, he said he began receiving messages of support from other Parkland families.

The key provision of the bill is short and direct: “Scot Peterson shall forfeit all rights and benefits under chapter 121, Florida Statutes, except the return of any accumulated contributions, as of the effective date of this act.”

But there are significant issues.

Bruce Rogow, a renowned constitutional law expert and founding professor of law at Nova Southeastern University, said such a move is exceedingly problematic.

Rogow said the U.S. Constitution prohibits bills of attainder, which are laws that single out individuals for punishment, and ex post facto laws, which are created after the fact. “The bill of attainder clause is really a safeguard against legislative exercise of judicial functions and trial by the Legislature.”

Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said he’s concerned about the kind of precedent that would be set by revoking Peterson’s pension.

“It’s a slippery slope,” he said, when someone has earned pension benefits and the state Legislature gets involved in trying to change the rules later on. “What do we start going after people for? Today it’s for failure to go into a school. Tomorrow it’s for excessive speeding.”

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