By Sallie James | Sun Sentinel
CORAL SPRINGS — The longtime leader of a popular teen Civil Air Patrol group has been removed from his position after parents complained about a mock terrorist demonstration he helped arrange.
Chuck Harrison, the group’s squadron commander for the past seven years, will be transferred to another unit composed solely of adults and is forbidden to participate in any cadet activities for a year, according to Col Antonio Pineda, the organization’s regional commander, who investigated the complaints.
Harrison arranged a mock terrorist demonstration, which involved fake gunmen shooting blanks, on Jan 8 for his teenage cadets and allowed them to participate in the event, Pineda said. The group meets on Thursday nights at the Coral Springs Charter School, 3205 N. University Drive.
The patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, with about 27,000 cadets nationwide.
“Some of the parents complained and some thought it was great,” Pineda said on Thursday. “But if you put one kid at risk, it becomes a problem.”
Harrison, a letter carrier who parents say is beloved by his cadets, said he was devastated by the news.
“It’s way too extreme,” Harrison said. “It is really a travesty that the organization is upholding the complaints of a few rather than considering my record.”
A second leader, Wing Commander Col Matt Sharkey, was suspended after the incident but reinstated two weeks later after he told investigators he was unaware weapons would be used in the demonstration, Pineda said.
The squadron, known as SER-FL-016, is one of the most decorated in the state. In 2002, the group earned a Florida Wing Squadron of Merit award, and was named a Florida Wing Squadron of Distinction in 2000 and a National Squadron of Distinction in 1997. The group has also been named the Florida Wing Outstanding Squadron of the Year three times since 1992.
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