New Florida governor suspends Broward sheriff over Parkland school massacre – ‘The neglect of duty and incompetence… connected to the massacre… has been well documented’

Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, center, leaves a news conference surrounded by supporters Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him, over his handling of last February's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

By TERRY SPENCER,  Associated Press   FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) 01/11 — New Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday over his handling of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, saying he “repeatedly failed and has demonstrated a pattern of poor leadership.”

The Republican governor flew to Fort Lauderdale three days after taking office to remove the Democratic sheriff, appointing a former police sergeant to serve as acting sheriff. Gregory Tony, 40, worked for Coral Springs police for 12 years before leaving in 2016 to start a company specializing in active-shooter training. He is the first African-American to serve as Broward’s sheriff.

DeSantis said during a news conference outside the sheriff’s office headquarters that Israel failed to keep families and children safe before and during the Feb. 14 shooting that left 14 students and three staff members dead inside the three-story freshman building.

In this Jan. 10, 2019 file photo, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announces funding for his environmental policy during a press conference at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla. DeSantis and the independently elected Cabinet granted pardons to four African-American men accused of raping a white woman nearly 70 years ago in a case now seen as a racial injustice. The unanimous vote came minutes after alleged victim Norma Padgett Upshaw pleaded with DeSantis and the Cabinet members, meeting as the clemency board, not to grant the pardons, saying she still relives the horror of the rape she said happened in 1949. But DeSantis said the case against the men known as the Groveland Four was clearly mishandled. (Dan Wagner/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP, File)

 

“The neglect of duty and incompetence that was connected to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been well documented, and I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel’s political grave,” DeSantis said. “Suffice it to say, the massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff’s department.”

During the shooting, then-Broward Deputy Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the school, drew his gun but took cover instead of charging inside. Seven other deputies who arrived within minutes also failed to enter, even as officers from neighboring Coral Springs went into the building.

Israel earlier changed the office’s policy from saying deputies “shall” confront active shooters to “may.” He said he didn’t want to deputies to undertake suicide missions. Deputies also received two calls about suspect Nikolas Cruz in the months before the massacre saying he had amassed an arsenal and was a potential school shooter, but took no action.

Minutes after DeSantis’ announcement, Israel said he “wholeheartedly” rejected the governor’s order and would fight it in court, arguing that DeSantis was making a “power grab” against the will of the county’s people who elected him. He said DeSantis was acting on behalf of the National Rifle Association, which quickly blamed the sheriff’s office after the shooting.

This Feb. 21, 2018 file photo, shows Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaking before a CNN town hall broadcast, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Fla. New Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 over his handling of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.(Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

 

“There was no wrongdoing on my part. I served the county honorably,” he said. “False narratives may continue, but not in a court of law. In a court of law, only the facts matter.”

Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty. If Israel challenges the suspension, the state Senate would hold a trial and could either fire or reinstate him. DeSantis’ Republican predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, refused to suspend Israel, saying he wanted to wait until investigations were completed.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was fatally shot as she ran down a third-floor hallway, inches from the safety of the stairwell, said she and other third-floor victims could have been saved if Peterson or other deputies had gone inside immediately.

“One more second and she makes it,” Guttenberg said. “If anybody wants to know what failure means and lack of response (means), my daughter would have lived if someone had given her one more second.”

Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died on the third floor trying to protect a younger student who also died, said “when eight BSO deputies listened to shots fired in a school and stayed outside they were following Sheriff Israel’s policies.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, shakes hands with supporters and family members of the Parkland, Fla., shooting, after speaking at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Fort Lauderdale headquarters, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday over his handling of February’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

 

A 15-member state commission that recently completed its initial report on the shooting said deputies also had about 20 contacts with Cruz as a juvenile — mostly over arguments with his now-deceased mother. Israel has said none of those contacts warranted an arrest. Law enforcement members of the state commission investigating the shooting have agreed with that conclusion.

But commissioners also concluded that the department’s active shooter training had not been effective. Still, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the commission’s chairman, and other law enforcement officials on the panel have said they didn’t think Israel should be suspended.

Israel, 62, was elected sheriff in 2012 after a long career in law enforcement. After taking office, Israel, a Republican until changing parties shortly before running in 2008, received criticism over his friendship with notorious GOP operative Roger Stone, for promoting Stone’s inexperienced stepson to detective and for accepting gifts from a wealthy benefactor.

However, community leaders praised his work with the homeless, minority and gay communities. Violent crime went down, and he easily won re-election in 2016 to oversee the county’s 2,800 deputies.

Shortly after Israel’s second term began, a man retrieved a handgun from his luggage at Fort Lauderdale’s airport and opened fire, killing five. While Israel’s deputies apprehended him within 72 seconds, the draft of a county report said Israel and others didn’t control the chaos, leaving passengers huddled in fear for hours. He criticized the draft, and the final version was less harsh — but many of the same communications problems that plagued the airport response were repeated at Stoneman Douglas.

 

https://www.apnews.com/2a890595d70843ea9ad755b096d21d44

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Appeals, Campus Crime, Deaths, Homicide, Investigations, Mass Casualty Attacks, Negligence, Police Leadership, Police Organizations, Policies & Practices, School Resource Officers (SROs), School Shootings, Sheriffs, Top Brass, Victims of Crime

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 + 6 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.