News & Politics

Florida Sheriff Refuses to Resign, Accuses Critics of ‘Grandstanding’

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks during a news conference at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says he’s not leaving office and accused a Florida lawmaker who wants him ousted by the governor of “disingenuous political grandstanding.”

The sheriff has been highly criticized for inaction during a mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, urging him to remove the sheriff due to a range of department failures before and during the shooting. “Each day, new details emerge about potential interagency breakdowns and miscommunications,” Hager wrote. “We must utilize all of our resources to ensure that a horrific act such as this never happens again.”

In the meantime, you have the power through Florida Statute 112.52 (1) to remove Broward County Sheriff Israel for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Various news outlets have confirmed that the School Resource Officer and three Broward Sheriff Deputies were on campus at the time of the attack and chose to take cover themselves rather than stepping up to protect our students. Not one of these trained officers made an effort to enter the building to protect students and teachers and save lives. It was not until deputies from the Coral Springs Police Department arrived, a Department not under the authority of the BSO, that uniformed officers actually entered the school and took action.

Additionally, it has been reported that there were 23 calls to the Broward Sheriff ’s Office relating to Nikolas Cruz and his home, as well as 39 visits by Broward Sheriff Deputies. …

The Sheriff was fully aware of the threat this individual presented to his community and chose to ignore it.

Israel, a Democrat, fired off a letter in response, calling the Republican lawmaker’s letter “reckless” and “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip, and falsehoods.” Israel took issue with Hager’s statement that all three deputies were on campus at the time of the shooting, saying it was only one: Scot Peterson, who has resigned.

He also disputed Hager’s statement that there were 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about Cruz and 39 visits by Broward Sheriff’s deputies.

The [Broward Sheriff Office] had a total of 23 calls for service involving Nikolas Cruz or his family; and 18 of those involved Nikolas directly (the others involved his brother). Of the 18, nearly all but two involved routine calls from the mother relating to parenting issues (her sons were fighting; her son was banging pool equipment against the house; etc). BSO released the entire list of specifics of each call for service, and none were arrestable offences.

Of the two encounters that remain under review, it is worth noting that in a subsequent incident at school, the BSO [School Resource Officer] subsequently referred Nikolas to the [Department of Children and Families], and Nikolas received mental health counseling, DCF supervision, and medication or 2.5 months before DCF closed the case.

As to the final call which remains under BSO internal investigation: the BSO deputy who handled the call informed the reporting party (and noted in the CAD record) that Nikolas no longer resided in our jurisdiction, and advised the reporting party to contact law enforcement in his then‐current county of residence (Palm Beach County). As BSO only had 23 calls for service (including the 18 involving the killer), Mr. Hager’s claim of “39 visits by” BSO deputies is simply fiction.

The sheriff has requested that Hager “publicly apologize for helping to spreading [sic] this false gossip and misinformation.”

PJ Media contacted Hager’s office for a response, but at the time of publication his office has not responded.