A new report by CNN, who hosted the infamous gun control town hall that repeatedly devolved into audience members shouting down pro-Second Amendment speakers, suggests that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is pushing false information on the public about the number of times law enforcement was called about the Parkland mass shooter and his family over the last ten years.
During the town hall last Wednesday, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch asked Israel about law enforcement being called to the home of the shooter 39 times over a six-year period, a number she got from a Feb 15 CNN report, though the report in fact cited "calls" rather than actual visits to his residence.
The day after the event, Israel said that they had actually only received 23 calls regarding the shooter or his family. On Saturday, the sheriff's office repeated that claim in a public statement which emphatically declared "STOP REPORTING 39":
Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family. STOP REPORTING 39; IT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
CNN reports that Israel made the same claim that day in a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
But in a report published Tuesday, CNN says that what public records show is "simply not true" is Israel's figure: Not only was Loesch correct to say that the number of calls to the office was much higher, it's even higher than formerly believed (emphasis added, shooter's name redacted):
Records obtained from the sheriff's office by CNN show the law enforcement agency received at least 45 calls for service relating to [the shooter] or his brother from 2008 to 2017, before the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. The sheriff's office has insisted it received no more than 23 calls for service regarding [the shooter] or his family.
CNN has repeatedly asked the sheriff's office to explain the discrepancy, sending emails and attempting to reach an agency representative by phone. The agency has not responded to those requests with an explanation.
Here are the "additional records" cited by CNN, which include call logs from the "computer aided dispatch" system of the law enforcement agency. CNN notes that the description of the calls included references to: "a 'mentally ill person,' 'child/elderly abuse,' 'domestic disturbance,' 'missing person,' and more."
Among the calls is a description of the shooter throwing his mother against the wall and another of him shooting a chicken with a BB gun. The sheriff's office also received a warning by a neighbor that the shooter had "planned to shoot up the school." A "vast majority" of the calls ended up without a written report.
Amid calls for his resignation, Israel, who has served since 2013, has defended his handling of the shooter, insisting he "exercised [his] due diligence" and could only act on the information he had — which we now know was clearly extensive.
So how could Israel's office have failed to take more aggressive action against the shooter despite a flood of alarming, escalating calls over the years? As RedState's Sarah Rumpf points out, a candidate questionnaire filled out by Israel in 2016 provides a hint at his "innovative initiatives" that shielded the threatening teen from legal consequences despite numerous red flags:
As our sheriff, I successfully implemented new policies and approaches to public safety that sharply reduced violent crime and burglary rates – the sharpest declines in the entire State of Florida. My innovative initiatives also helped keep children in school and out of jail, greatly expanding the juvenile civil citation program and making issuance of civil citations mandatory for BSO deputies….I will build upon these impressive successes in my next term as Sheriff.
As Rumpf highlights, over the course of his tenure, starting in 2013, the number of arrests of juvenile offenders has plummeted by nearly 50%. Read more here.