Earlier this week the Miami Times reported that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had told his top commanders he expected to be suspended by incoming Governor Ron DeSantis. Late yesterday, the Sun-Sentinel reported an announcement from the Governor would be made today:
DeSantis will make the announcement at the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Friday afternoon, sources told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“We have an event that we’re doing tomorrow,” the governor’s press office said Thursday night. “The governor’s going to issue a statement on holding government officials accountable.”…
Israel’s replacement, former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony, will be presented at the event, a source said.
CNN adds that the announcement will happen at 3 pm eastern time.
The governor is expected to make the official announcement at 3 p.m. at the Broward County public safety complex, during an event billed as “a message on holding government officials accountable.”…
According to Florida statute, the governor has the power to suspend the sheriff for actions such as “misfeasance” and “neglect of duty” and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. The actual power to remove the sheriff from office is in the hands of the state Senate.
According to the body’s website, it makes “final dispositions” on whether to reinstate a suspended official or remove him from office.
Sheriff Israel has already said he intends to request a trial before the Florida Senate to fight for his job. So even if everything happens as expected this afternoon, this battle isn’t over.
As I pointed out Wednesday, a final report on the Parkland shooting was released last week. That report states that Sheriff Israel changed the wording in his office’s policy on dealing with active shooters such that confronting them becomes an option left to the officer’s discretion:
Sheriff Israel inserted the word “may” in the BSO policy, and it is insufficient and fails to unequivocally convey the expectation that deputies are expected to immediately enter an active assailant scene where gunfire is active and to neutralize the threat. The use of the word “may” in BSO policy is inconsistent with current and standard law enforcement practices…
BSO should revise its active assailant policy to make unequivocally clear that deputies are expected to immediately seek out an active assailant and that ‘containment’ is not the policy of BSO.
The same report found that Deputy Scot Peterson was “derelict” in his duty.
Former Deputy Scot Peterson was derelict in his duty on February 14, 2018, failed to act consistently with his training and fled to a position of personal safety while Cruz shot and killed MSDHS students and staff. Peterson was in a position to engage Cruz and mitigate further harm to others, and he willfully decided not to do so.
Peterson had been trained and knew what he was supposed to do in the case of an active shooter, enter the building and engage him. But the change made to BSO policy by Sheriff Israel appears to me to mean that doing so was left at his discretion.
The announcement by Gov. DeSantis should take place around the time this story goes up. However, it seems possible that may now be delayed as the Governor’s plane had to make an emergency landing:
A plane carrying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was forced to make an emergency landing in St. Petersburg Friday afternoon, according to the governor’s spokesman.
DeSantis was en route to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, where he was scheduled to hold a 3 p.m. press conference to announce the suspension of Sheriff Scott Israel, who is under fire over his agency’s handling of the Florida school shooting massacre.
I’ll update this story once an announcement is made.
Update: Here it is:
Effective immediately, I am officially suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his repeated failures, incompetence and neglect of duty. https://t.co/tkHzxTHhjH
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 11, 2019
Reasons for the suspension span several pages but include this: “WHEREAS Sheriff Israel is responsible for inserting into the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Active Shooter Policy that a deputy ‘may’ enter the area or structure to engage an active shooter and preserve life.”