Michael Laughlin / South Florida Sun-Sentinel / AP
Friday, January 11, 2019 | 2:37 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Governor of New Florida Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his handling of the February Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Republican governor traveled to Fort Lauderdale three days after taking office to dismiss the Democratic Sheriff, appointing a former police sergeant as acting sheriff. Gregory Tony, 40, worked for 12 years for the Coral Springs police before leaving in 2016 to create a company that specializes in live fire training. He is the first African-American to be a Sheriff of Broward.
DeSantis' office issued a statement stating, "Sheriff Israel has repeatedly failed and demonstrated a tradition of poor leadership, and he has not protected the Floridians and visitors during the tragic shooting of the United States. Fort Lauderdale International Airport in 2017. He failed in his obligations to keep our families and children safe during the devastating shootout at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. These incidents demonstrate the need for a safe haven. repeated incompetence of the sheriff by Israel and his negligence in the performance of his duties. "
The statement added: "The families of the victims deserve accounts."
Israel was due to make a statement later in the afternoon.
Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity because of lack of power, incompetence or breach of duty. Israel intends to challenge the suspension in the state Senate, which will proceed to trial before dismissing him or reinstating him. Israeli lawyer Stuart Kaplan said this week that the sheriff was not justifying his dismissal and that his future should be left to Broward voters in the 2020 elections. Israel had been sheriff for six years.
In April, DeSantis said he would have suspended Israel when he was governor, but he backed down a bit later during the campaign, only indicating that he would hold his agents accountable . The Republican predecessor of DeSantis, now American. Senator Rick Scott refused to suspend Israel, saying that he wanted to wait until investigations into the February 14 shooting that left 17 dead are over before taking action.
Some relatives of Stoneman Douglas victims and conservative lawmakers began demanding the overthrow of Israel shortly after the shooting when it was revealed that Broward's MP charged with overseeing the school, Scot Peterson , had not gone into the building to confront the shooter and his advisor. 15 semi-automatic rifle, but is sheltered on the outside.
The other Broward MPs who arrived during the shooting did not come in either, even as officers from neighboring Coral Springs – Tony's former department – were loaded inside. The parents also criticized Israel for asserting during a national television interview that he had provided "incredible leadership" as a result of the shooting.
"Nothing, nothing, nothing will bring back my child or 16 others, but there have been failures everywhere you have shot," said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, 14, died as a result of shooting. "And after that failure, there was just a refusal to take responsibility, I wish him good luck, but it was time to change."
The heat increased after hearing that the sheriff's office had received a call in 2016 and another in 2017 warning that the 20-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz was a potential school shooter, but that Ministers had not taken them into account. The deputy ministers also had about 20 contacts with Cruz while he was a minor – mainly because of arguments with his mother, who has died today. Israel said none of these contacts deserved arrest – a finding to which the law enforcement officials of the state commission charged with investigating the beatings fire.
Commissioners in their report finalized last week blamed Israel for having earlier changed the policy of its office according to which deputy ministers "could" face active shooters instead of "must", giving the excused excuse not to charge the school. Israel told them that he did not want the deputy ministers to think that they had to carry out suicide missions.
The commissioners also concluded that the active training of the shooter had not been effective. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chair of the commission, and other law enforcement officials also said they did not think Israel should be suspended.
Israel, 62, was elected sheriff in 2012 after a long career in policing, ousting the Republican in place during his second attempt in the very Democratic county. After taking office, Israel, a Republican until he changed sides shortly before he ran in 2008, was criticized for his friendship with the famous GOP agent, Roger Stone, for promoting the inexperienced stepson to Stone and for accepting gifts from a wealthy benefactor.
However, community leaders praised her work with homeless, minority and gay communities. Violent crime has decreased and he was easily re-elected in 2016 to oversee the 2,800 deputies in the county.
For years, Israel has been calling for tougher gun laws in Florida, a position that has created criticism long before the school shootout.
Shortly after the start of Israel's second term, a man retrieved a handgun from his luggage at the Fort Lauderdale airport and opened fire, killing five people. While Israeli deputies apprehended him within 72 seconds, the county's draft report indicated that Israel and others were not controlling the chaos, leaving passengers snuggling in fear for hours. He criticized the project and the final version was less severe – but many of the same communication problems that tainted the airport's reaction were repeated at Stoneman Douglas.