The surprise of this vote isn’t its ultimate outcome. It’s that it wasn’t unanimous. The Florida Senate made the removal of former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel permanent last night, but the final vote inexplicably broke along party lines:
After hours of debate filled with gripping, emotional details about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre and soaring rhetoric about constitutional rights and the weighty responsibilities of elected officials, the Florida Senate voted Wednesday to permanently remove suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
The 25-15 vote was mostly along party lines with Republicans, who are a majority in the Senate and loyal to the Republican governor, generally supporting removal while most Democrats voted to reinstate the Democratic sheriff. All five Broward senators voted for reinstatement, despite the wishes of Parkland parents.
Israel, whose leadership was seen as so flawed by the governor and family members of Parkland victims that it contributed to some of the 17 deaths and 17 injuries, has been out off office since Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him in January.
What exactly was the argument for keeping Israel on the job? This is the man whose department allowed literally dozens of red-flag incidents involving the Parkland shooter to slide as part of his attempts to suck up to the Obama administration and its juvenile-offender policies. His own deputies wanted Israel gone; the union felt so strongly about it that they launched a billboard advertising campaign to get rid of him. Rather than acknowledge his own culpability for having allowed this powder keg to get set off, Israel instead went on CNN to blame the NRA, Dana Loesch, and pretty much everyone else but himself.
As Jazz noted at the time, Israel wanted to talk about his “amazing leadership,” in CNN’s follow-up to that execrable town hall a week later:
JAKE TAPPER: Are you really not taking responsibility for the multiple red flags that were brought to the attention of the Broward Sheriff’s Office before this incident, whether it was people near him, close to him, calling the police on him…
SHERIFF ISRAEL: Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency…
TAPPER: (interrupting) Amazing leadership???
ISRAEL: Yes, Jake. There’s a lot of things we’ve done throughout. You don’t measure a person’s leadership by a person not going into…
TAPPER: Maybe you measure somebody’s leadership by whether or not they protect the community and in this case you’ve listed 23 incidents before the shooting, involving the shooter, and still nothing was done to keep guns out of his hands, to make sure the school was protected, to make sure you were keeping an eye on him. Your deputy failed. I don’t understand how you can sit there and claim “amazing leadership.”
The case for firing Israel was made twenty months ago on national television, and Israel’s defense only got more ridiculous since that point. On what basis did 15 Florida state senate Democrats think that it would be a good idea to put Israel back into that job? Just to “own” Ron DeSantis? That’s some amazing leadership there, Florida Democrats.
At any rate, this is a small bit of justice for the families of the victims in the Parkland shooting. Hopefully, the successor to Israel’s “amazing leadership” has dispensed with the PROMISE program nonsense and has instead chosen to enforce the law. That might not earn the new sheriff any visits to the White House, but it might save a few more lives down the road.