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Governor DeSantis Suspends Broward County Sheriff Over Response to Deadly Parkland School Shooting

Governor DeSantis Suspends Broward County Sheriff Over Response to Deadly Parkland School Shooting

“I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel’s political grave,” DeSantis said, “but suffice it to say the massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff’s department.”

Friday afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel via executive order.

More from the Sun Sentinel:

Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Broward Sheriff Scott Israel from office Friday, replacing him after 10 months of turmoil spawned by the slaughter of 17 staff and students in Parkland.

The governor replaced Israel with former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony, 40, who has a background in active-shooter training and becomes the first black sheriff in Broward County’s history.

DeSantis announced the suspension from the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters.

Across town, the displaced former sheriff prepared a response from a church in northwest Fort Lauderdale.

In his executive order, the governor cited incompetence and neglect of duty. At the press conference, he did not mince words.

“I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel’s political grave,” DeSantis said, “but suffice it to say the massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff’s department.”

The suspension caps a nearly year-long series of revelations that exposed the failure of Broward sheriff’s deputies to run in to save children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Some deputies said they couldn’t remember when they’d last been trained to handle an active shooter, even though the agency had a confused, chaotic response to a mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017.

Israel’s leadership of the agency has come under intense scrutiny, and he’s received extensive criticism over the massacre in which 17 people were killed and 17 wounded on Valentine’s Day.

Watch the statement here:

A report recently released by a commission investigating the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was highly critical of Israel.

Earlier this week, Israel informed staff incoming Governor DeSantis planned to suspend him.


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DeSantis – doing what Rick Scott didn’t have the balls to do.

What made Israel’s performance really special was his immediate PR blitz to blame his failure on the NRA. That made him an instant “good guy” instead of the goat, as the MSN put him in the headlines with every smear he dished out.

    Israel couldn’t get enough camera time until it became evident the Broward County Sheriff’s Department was the real-life Keystone Cops.

Well, I guess that settles the question as to whether he and his legal team think that he has the authority. Onward to the courts to once again usurp it.

    natdj in reply to txvet2. | January 11, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    The state senate votes on this suspension according to the state Constitution. The State Supreme Court is no longer liberal so Israel has little recourse.

      MarkS in reply to natdj. | January 11, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      Maybe he can be Hogg’s tutor at Harvard

      dystopia in reply to natdj. | January 12, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Israel’s best path to reinstatement to through the Federal Courts before an Obama appointed United States District Court Judge (as did Brenda Snipes before Mark Walker). The judge can then issue a Holy Commandment (e.g. Court Order) reinstating Israel at the expense of the better qualified black man.

        natdj in reply to dystopia. | January 12, 2019 at 5:22 pm

        Judge Walker said he cannot reinstate her because she submitted her resignation. She is not returning. As for Sheriff Israel, he can attempt to go to Federal Court but he says he running for Sheriff in 2020 anyway. His focus is the state senate which ultimately agrees or disagrees with the governor.

I’ll comment on this later. For now, I suggest that everyone check out the following timeline of the incident, paying particular attention to the elapsed time at the top of the page.

    murkyv in reply to Mac45. | January 12, 2019 at 3:34 pm


    That was a stomach-churning and enraging walk-through of the event. I had not seen this before.

    I can’t even describe how I feel right now, after seeing this.

    Thank you for posting it. I’m bookmarking this one, fersure.

    These reporters at the Sun Sentinal should be getting a Pulitzer for the work they’ve done on this shooting, but they probably won’t, since there’s so many Liberal policies at stake

      Mac45 in reply to murkyv. | January 13, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      This is a very detailed presentation which is what is usually done for any criminal incident of this nature. The take-away here is how much this diverges from the popular accounts, mostly media, of the incident. And, this is why people have to be very careful of jumping to conclusions.

As a Floridian who had DeSantis as congressman, this is welcome news and not a surprise. More suspensions to come.

As for former Gov. Scott, he did not remove that coward, Scott Israel because of the Parkland Commission did not finish with their recommendations until only recently. Please keep in mind. The state senate still must agree to this and also, while Scott was governor, the state Supreme Court was liberal. If Scott Israel was removed prior to the recommendations of the commission it may not have convinced enough senators to go along and the Supreme Court may have sided with the sheriff.

No problem. There’s a judge in Hawaii who will immediately grant a stay on this…

It i apparent to me that the Democrats have the runs…

It is apparent to me that the Democrats have the runs…

Dump this bum. Three cheers for the Gov.

So, did everyone use the link that I provided for the excellent timeline done by the Sun Sentinel? I hope so, because I’ll get to that in a moment.

This was a case where, due to a lack of security and security training provided by the controlling entity for MSDHS, the Broward County School Board, a lunatic was allowed to walk onto campus, with a rifle, enter a three story building and begin shooting people. Is everyone with me so far. The fact that he was on campus and inside a building was due to overwhelming negligence on the art of the elected members of the Broward County School Board. Even though school employees know that Cruz is on campus and shots are being fired, no Code Red is issued and the school is not locked down.

The first time that the Broward Sheriff’s office becomes involved is 2 3/4 minutes after Cruz was first spotted and 1 minute into his shooting spree. This is when Peterson is notified by school employees. He responds to Bldg 12 and takes up a position outside approximately 30 seconds later and notifies BSO Dispatch that he hears shots or firecrackers inside Bldg. 12 This is problematic. Peterson has a choice to make here. While doctrine in active shooter situations is to locate and engage the active shooter, Petersen is also the only LEO on the scene. If he proceeds on a search and destroy mission, there is no one to assume command of the scene and direct responding units. Unfortunately, initially, Peterson does neither. This is a gross failure. And, Cruz has already killed 11 and wounded 13, on the first floor.

The first off-campus deputy arrives 1 1/2 minutes later. At this point Cruz has been in campus for 4 3/4 minutes and shooting for 3 minutes. By this time Cruz is on the third floor of the building opens fire down the hallway, killing 6 and wounding four. These are the last people whom Cruz injures. Cruz has now been shooting for 3 1/2 minutes. 4 1/2 minutes after the first shot, other BSO deputies arrive. At this point, Cruz is firing his last few rounds at a third floor window. 1 3/4 minutes later, Cruz leaves the building and escapes. The active shooting incident is now over; 5 1/2 minutes after it began.

Now, according to this time line, the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch, as well as the rest of the Sheriff’s Office, was notified of the incident 1 minute after Cruz began shooting and all but one of the responding deputies arrived 3 1/2 minutes later. This is a pretty good response time. But, except for the fact that the shooting was taking place somewhere inside Bldg 12, nothing else had been communicated to the responding units. Upon their arrival, the shooting stops, leaving them with further uncertainty as to the gunman’s location and no description. A minute and a half later, the gunman, unknown to the deputies, has left the campus.

The activities which followed were chaotic, but had no real impact upon stopping the shooter. A three story building has to be cleared. Because the school employees rewound the surveillance tape, LE personnel believe that they are watching Cruz walking about the building long after he has left. Added to that is the fact that doctrine limits the sweeper teams to one, whenever possible, to avoid blue on blue shooting incidents. The lack of a command post for the next 40 minutes is also problematic.

The only two real problems, with the BSO response were that Peterson did not enter the building after immediately notifying dispatch of the incident and any particulars which he had. Entering would have allowed him to collect intelligence and/or engage the shooter. Entry would have required him to turn down the volume on his radio, if he did not have an earpiece, which would have limited or removed him from radio contact. Dispatch could have handle control of the scene until the first responding officer arrived and assumed command of the scene. However, nothing would have prevented the bulk of the slaughter, as it occurred before Peterson even reached the building. The second problem was scene control, which was not established until several minutes after Cruz had escaped. For some reason, the BSO response simply froze. This is usually due to a lack of training and/or a department culture which does not encourage lower level initiative.

In this case, there is no indication that any action taken by BSO personnel would have changed the final outcome, to a significant degree. Solo entry for an active shooter, while part of the doctrine, is a very iffy tactic. Should the solo operator be incapacitated prior before he can incapacitate the shooter, this eliminates an active source of LE intelligence, leaving responding units in the dark. In this case, it is moot, as Deputy Peterson did not assume active control of the scene. If the shooter had been incapacitated immediately upon Peterson’s arrival, 11 people would still be dead and 13 wounded. 6 lives would have been saved and four less would have been wounded. But, the bulk of the damage would already have been done. And, his incapacitation was not assured. Personally, I would have gone in, in Peterson’s place, even though there was little information available. And, depending upon the circumstances, it is possible that Cruz would have engaged all of his targets before I caught up with him, as there were three floors involved.

Now, if entry and exit had been limited to one or two points and those points were staffed by armed security, then it is much more likely that this incident could have been avoided all together. The potential shooter would have been intercepted, by personnel armed and trained to respond to an armed threat, before he entered the campus or the target rich environment of the building. Once you let the fox into the hen house, you are going to lose chickens. This was not the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office, but the responsibility of the School Board. The school system, and MSDHS administrators, directly, were given a comprehensive security assessment, which they chose to ignore. And, it does not appear that the elected members of the School Board will suffer for their lack of action.

The suspension of Sheriff Israel is nothing more than political payback for the support that DsSantis received from MSDHS parents and others. It is a feel good action for the parents. But, it does nothing to address the problem, which is a lack of facility security provided by the School Board. While I firmly believe that Scott Israel was a terrible Sheriff, Broward County has had worse. And none of them have been suspended from office except following an indictment. If the people of Broward County wish to remove Sheriff Israel from office, then they can always recall him. Courts can find him personally liable for the actions of his deputies. But, suspension, for the reasons alluded to in the news reports, opens up a huge can of worms.

    natdj in reply to Mac45. | January 12, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Though the Soviet Sentinel did a thorough job, there is more than what is mentioned. Under Florida statute the governor can remove an elected official while the state senate becomes the judge. Here is the EO from my governor (Mr. DeSantis use to be my congressman).

    Here is the initial report from the MSD Commiission.

    Here is AG Moody’s statement:

    I am perplexed as to why anyone would defend Sheriff Israel even though under his “leadership” the BDO failed at the airport where 5 died and then at Parkland. His failings can be interpreted as “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, incompetence, or permanent inability to perform official duties.” This option is in our state constitution because it affiords the governor and the state senate to take action when locals will not.

    Being critical of the parents in Broward who want some type of recourse or a scalp is ok with me. They have to live without their precious child because the BSO Sheriff and his policies failed, the FBI failed, and the School District failed. I would add the ridiculous federal program of the Obama administration and liberalism failed these teenagers and adults who were murdered.

    As for the school board memebers being removed, the governor can do that because they are elected. If there is sufficient evidence to remove them in accordance with FS 112.51 then remove them. The irony is Sup. Runcie cannot be removed by the governor because he is appointed.

    Finally, as a Florida resident and a father of a teenage son in Public School, I resent that all of our schools look like war zones and prisons because this asshole of a sheriff and the pathetic liberal ideology along with the asinine federal program of looking the other way instituted by the Broward County School District has made many of us livid with the BS that is being pushed down our throats. These teenagers and these adults should not have died. The blood is on the hands of Israel, Runcie, the Broward County School Board, the FBI, those who pushed Obama’s Promise Program but most of all Nikolas Cruz.

      Mac45 in reply to natdj. | January 13, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      You just do not get it, do you.

      17 people died and 17 people were grievously wounded because the Broward County School Board did not do its job of securing this school, or any others in the county. 6 of the dead and 4 of the wounded mght not have been, if Deputy Peterson had immediately entered the building. The operant words there are “might not have been”. There was NO WAY that the Broward Sheriff’s Office, in general, or Sheriff Israel, in particular, could have stopped that from happening. The Sheriff was not in charge of the school facility or security for the school facility. That was the responsibility of the School Board. And, not only is it unlikely that any action will be taken against those elected officials, but politicians and the media are either ignoring their culpability or actively protecting them.

      The shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was also a case where the Sheriff’s Office could not have stopped it from happening. The airline gave a pistol and ammunition, which they knew, or should have known, was in a piece of luggage to a person inside an airline terminal. They did not notify the Sheriff’s office that they were doing this. The Sheriff’s Office had no knowledge that a person was illegally in possession of a firearm inside the terminal [a violation of Florida State Law], until he began shooting people. That shooter’s actions were promptly addressed, as soon as a the Sheriff’s Office learned of it.

      Look, in neither of these incidents was the Sheriff at fault for the initial incident. Nor can a strong case be made that, once the Office learned of the incident, that action by the Office would definitely have stopped it. That is what the timeline of both shootings indicates. Problems were exhibited after the shooting incidents had stopped. But, in neither case did those problems directly effect the shooters action in the initial incident.

      This is simply political cover by Governor DeSantis. Rather than deal with the PR problems of an angry group of MSDHS parents, many of whom have money and influence, he scapegoated the Sheriff, who is a very unlikable person. To justify that, the Guv uses the airport incident to distract from his action to assuage these vocal parents over the school shooting.

      The danger in this action is that it IS simply political. In the past, locally elected officials have been suspended from office for violating state laws, most of which are criminal in nature. And, the suspensions almost always follow the filing of criminal charges or an indictment. In this case, you have a Sheriff, elected by the voters of Broward County, who has not been charged with the violation of any statute or law. And, only 31% of the voters in Broward County voted for DeSantis. If the voters of Broward County feel that the Sheriff is incompetent, they have ample remedies available to them, most notably the recall petition. So far, the majority of voters have NOT voted to remove Israel.

      But, this get even better. Tony, the new interim Sheriff, is not even a resident of Broward County. He currently resides in Boca Raton, in Palm Beach County. He has some “expertise” in active shooter situations. But, he has no administrative experience at all. He was a sergeant at CSPD. A sergeant is not an administrator, the position being analogous to a line foreman in a factory. And CSPD is hardly a large LEA, having 310 employees and servicing only about 127,000 people. It hardly qualifies him to be the administrative head of a 5000 employee LEA responsible for LE, Detention and court functions. It is like naming the supervisor of the Denalli truck assembly line, in Dearborn Mi, CEO of GM. And, he is reportedly the choice of the vocal MSDHS parents.

      As I have said, I am not a supporter or fan of Sheriff Israel. But, he was duly elected by the people of Broward County. He has committed no crimes, for which he can be legitimately removed from office. It is very dangerous to set this type of precedent, where the Governor can suspend a locally elected official on spurious grounds.

peterson made the wrong choice, for whatever reason–children are dying and you’re not going to do a damn thing about it?–you’re not willing do your duty and engage the shooter yourself?–to risk your own life to help those you swore to protect?–why did you ever put on a badge?–you’re a disgrace to yourself and to your department–guess you’ll just have to live with your cowardice–those children were innocents–we’re the adults in this world and it is our moral and legal responsibility to protect them–you failed, buddy, you just failed

    DEP. PETERSON made a choice that most of us believe to have been in error. As the time line indicates he could not have stopped the murder and injury of the 24 people on the 1st floor of Bldg. 12. By the time the bulk of the deputies arrived, the shooting was over. They could not have changed the outcome, if they had all immediately rushed into the building. The reason why I provided the link above was so that people would have an accurate idea of exactly what transpired, not the media hype has been. And, you illustrate the problem nicely.

    I keep pointing out that the School Board, by their refusal to establish effective protective measures at the school, are directly, and soley, responsible for the shooting. The Sheriff has NO authority or responsibility to establish effective safeguards at a school. And, according to the time line, any action of the Sheriff’s Office, once the shooting started, would have materially affected what happened to 24 of the 34 victims of the shooting. But, no one wants to talk about the facts here. A scapegoat is needed to assuage a small, vocal minority and it is easier to target an unlikable Sheriff than the people truly responsible, the School Board. The Governor’s actions do nothing to protect the school children in Broward County or the rest of Florida. It is simply political theater.