January 18, 2019

Gov. DeSantis suspends Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel

13 January 2019, 03:55 | Darnell Patrick

House Speaker Jose Oliva

House Speaker Jose Oliva

Israel had been sheriff six years. The failure of the radio system added to the chaos that included SWAT teams not knowing where to land their helicopters.

"The neglect of duty and the incompetence that was connected to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas has been well-documented, and I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel's political grave".

Flanked by family members of the Parkland victims at a news conference near Fort Lauderdale, DeSantis announced he had suspended Israel and named Gregory Tony, a former sergeant with the Coral Springs Police Department, as the sheriff's replacement.

But Israel, clad in a suit and tie rather than his usual sheriff's uniform, said DeSantis' actions were motivated by politics, not facts.

"There was no wrongdoing on my part", he said.

Broward Sheriff's Office came under fire after a report last week was critical of its response to the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"This suspension is not about what occurred on February 14th", Israel said.

"Today, he merely fulfilled a campaign promise", Israel said.

"We have an event that we're doing tomorrow", DeSantis' office said Thursday night. But the change made to BSO policy by Sheriff Israel appears to me to mean that doing so was left at his discretion.

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Israel also discussed plans to get his title back after the Florida Senate reconvenes March 5. Tony is the first black sheriff of Broward County. Tony, a Democrat like Israel, will fill the remainder of Israel's term, unless the ousted sheriff is successful in fighting his suspension.

Tony promised to restore the confidence of the residents of Broward County and had a message for the employees whom he now leads.

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.

Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty.

The order also will create the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, which will organize scientific research and analysis to keep agencies in line with the state's environmental priorities.

According to the state Senate website, it makes "final dispositions" on whether to reinstate a suspended official or remove him from office. The attack, which also left dozens injured, is one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent USA history. DeSantis' Republican predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, refused to suspend Israel, saying he wanted to wait until investigations were completed.

Israel said then he would not resign.

At the end of the press conference, a reporter asked if the governor believes the scientists who say humans cause climate change.

Israel, 62, was elected sheriff in 2012 after a long career in law enforcement.

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