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Dimwit Florida Sheriff Was 'Once a Proud Member of Team Obama'

Florida Sheriff Scott Israel in a black uniform

When some major police incident occurs, it is most often my practice to withhold comment until I can be sure that most of the facts surrounding it have been revealed. A horrific event like a school shooting like that which occurred in Parkland, Fla., arouses the impulse to weigh in with opinions based on incomplete or even false information. It is best to resist this impulse.

Others, of course, with endless hours of air time to fill, and with agendas to push along, are unable to resist it. There may be more egregious examples of this, but I don’t see how anyone can compete with the CNN’s recent “town hall,” at which Sen. Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch were mocked and browbeaten by what amounted to little more than an angry mob.

Which is not to say the people in attendance didn’t have reason to be angry. The crowd was made up of students, parents, and teachers from Stoneman Douglas High School, where days earlier 31 students and staff members had been shot, 17 of them fatally. From a high school student’s limited perspective and experience, he knows only that something horrific has occurred in his world, something that by all rights should not have. With his nerves still raw and exposed, he sees before him on the stage a conservative senator and a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, each of whom he perceives, in that limited perspective and experience, to have contributed to the trauma he has experienced.

Fine. One expects as much from young people, but with the understanding that their outrage, however well founded, will have limited influence in the formulation of public policy. What I found most interesting in the CNN broadcast, aside from the graciousness shown by Sen. Rubio and Ms. Loesch, was how Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel came to be a crowd favorite, echoing as he did their loudly expressed passion for stricter gun control, all the while eliding the apparent failures of his own department. Interrupting Ms. Loesch at one point, Sheriff Israel said to her, “You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’” This statement, though meaningless, was of course intended to be an applause line, and indeed it was greeted with a standing ovation.

But Sheriff Israel was far from finished wooing the crowd. After extolling his own police experience, he said, “The men and women I’ve worked with for almost forty years, we know how to keep America safe. . . . When we encounter someone who’s going through a mental illness, we shouldn’t have to wait until they’re a danger to themselves or someone else. We should be able to take them to an institution that’s going to examine them and take weapons away from them right then and there.”