Following his suspension by new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel vowed to take legal action. 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.”
"This suspension is not about what occurred on February 14th,” Israel said. “The governor promised as a candidate – well before he had any facts of the investigation, well before the commission even began their work – that he would remove me from office. Today, he merely fulfilled a campaign promise. This was about politics, not about Parkland."
Israel went on to say no one from DeSantis’ staff nor the governor himself spoke to Israel about what happened in Parkland, and that the governor was carrying out the will of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He also suggested suspending him was an “easy” way to ignore the real problem, which is gun violence in America.
The problem for Israel is that the investigation and commission he spoke about found that the department’s active shooter training was ineffective, though they did not recommend suspending Israel. The sheriff was also criticized in the report for changing his department’s policy from saying officers “shall” confront active shooters to saying they “may” confront them.
This allowed Broward Deputy Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the high school where a mass shooting occurred in February 2018, to take cover outside instead of entering the building to save the lives of children. Seven other deputies from Broward also stayed outside, while officers from neighboring Coral Springs entered the building to stop the shooter.
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. The department also had 20 previous contacts with the shooter relating to arguments with his now-deceased mother.
In his statement announcing Israel’s suspension, Gov. DeSantis said the sheriff “has repeatedly failed and has demonstrated a pattern of poor leadership."
"These incidents demonstrate Sheriff Israel’s repeated incompetence and neglect of duty," DeSantis’ executive order removing Israel said. "The families of the victims deserve accountability. It is my job as Governor to ensure that the safety of our local communities, especially the safety of our children, is paramount. Government officials must be held accountable for their actions, and/or inactions. For these reasons, I am suspending Sheriff Israel from office effective immediately.”
Seventeen people were killed in the Parkland school shooting because Broward County deputies failed to do their jobs. Sheriff Israel repeatedly defended their actions and his own when asked about the failures by the investigating commission.