March 20, 2019

Florida sheriff says he'll fight suspension after school massacre

13 January 2019, 03:11 | Devin Moran

Florida governor suspends Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel

A placard from Floridians Against Fracking urges Florida's new governor Ron DeSantis to make good on his campaign promise to ban fracking in the state

"Gregory Tony will be a champion for Broward County who will work tirelessly to safeguard our schools and our streets while ensuring accountability within the Sheriff's office", DeSantis said in a statement. "I served the county honorably", he said in an evening news conference at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church, a historically black church in Fort Lauderdale.

Minutes after DeSantis' announcement, Israel said he would fight the suspension.

New Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blamed Israel's "repeated failures, incompetence and neglect of duty". DeSantis' Republican predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Despite reports and investigations showing numerous flaws that led to more deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, Israel proclaimed his suspension was "about politics".

Three Broward Sheriff's Office deputies resigned, saying they did so as a result of Israel's suspension, according to command separation forms released by the sheriff's office.

Hixon said the inaction by multiple deputies when shots were being fired in a school building as a sign of a failure of leadership.

"Let's understand the suspension for what it really is, a massive political power grab, by the governor to subvert the will of our Broward County voters", Israel said.

But he also pointed out no one was removed from office in the wake of other mass shootings in Florida.

In April, Broward County sheriff's deputies took a largely symbolic vote of no confidence against Israel, with union President Jeff Bell vowing to ask the governor to consider removing Israel.

According to the Miami Herald, a state panel investigating the shooting found that sheriff's deputies weren't properly trained, and that they took cover to protect themselves instead of pursuing the shooter. Israel told them he didn't want deputies to think they had to conduct suicide missions.

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"Needed a fresh start at the South Florida Water Management District", Gov. DeSantis said on Thursday.

The Sun-Sentinel explained the Florida Constitution gives the governor the authority to suspend public officials for "neglect of duty" and other causes.

In the weeks following the shooting, Israel argued that he had "given incredible leadership" and placed blame on his deputies.

In the months following the shooting, journalists reported that Israel's office had received two calls - one in 2016 and one in 2017 - suggesting the eventual shooter was a potential school shooter.

Sheriff Israel inserted the word "may" in the BSO policy, and it is insufficient and fails to unequivocally convey the expectation that deputies are expected to immediately enter an active assailant scene where gunfire is active and to neutralize the threat.

"I do believe we've got the right guy", Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, said.

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