Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is telling his commanders he's going to be fired, but Governor says not yet

It’s still not a done deal but the writing is clearly on the wall for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Yesterday the Miami Times reported that Israel had informed his top commanders that his time in office was short:

Jeff Bell, BSO’s union chief, said Israel told his staff on Monday that his ouster was inevitable.

“We know that he is telling everyone at the public safety building that he is going to be gone,’’ said Bell, who was at DeSantis’ swearing-in ceremony in Tallahassee on Tuesday…

Florida’s governor can suspend a sheriff — as well as other public officials — for a number of reasons, including criminal activity, neglect of duty and incompetence. But should that happen, Israel will request a trial before the Florida Senate to fight it, his lawyer said.

Last week a 458-page report on the Parkland shooting was approved. That report notes that the Sheriff Israel altered department policy regarding dealing with active shooters such that engaging them directly was at the discretion of the officer:

The Broward Sheriff’s Office Active Shooter policy (SOP 4.37) states: “If real-time intelligence exists, the sole deputy or a team of deputies may enter the area and/or structure to preserve life. A supervisor’s approval or on-site observation is not required for this decision.”…

The Coral Springs Police Department active shooter policy (General Order #221) states: “If real-time intelligence exists, the sole officer or team of officers shall enter the area and/or
structure to preserve life, and they will be referred to as the contact officer/team.” A significant difference between the two policies is found in two small words. BSO states that deputies “may” pursue the threat while CSPD’s policy stated officers “shall” pursue the threat. In his testimony to the Commission, Sheriff Israel defended use of the word “may” stating that he wanted his deputies to exercise discretion and he did not want them engaging in “suicide missions.”

So the inaction of Deputy Scot Peterson, the so-called Coward of Broward who stood outside taking cover while shots were fired, was specifically authorized by a change of policy instituted by Sheriff Israel. From the findings of this section of the report:

  1. BSO deputies had some level of knowledge and familiarity with their active shooter policy. Several of them referenced that their policy states that they “may” enter a building or structure to engage an active shooter
  2. 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.

Hence, one of the recommendations of the report reads, “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.”

After the Miami Times report suggesting Israel was on his way out, Gov. DeSantis was asked if the report was accurate. He gave a somewhat cryptic answer. From the Sun-Sentinel:

In a brief news conference in Miami on his second day in office, DeSantis was asked about reports that Israel has told his staff he expects he’ll be suspended from office by the new governor — and whether there is a timeline for an announcement.

“All I can I can say is to the people of South Florida: I shall return very soon,” the governor said.

As mentioned above, Israel apparently still believes he gave “amazing leadership” to his deputies and plans to fight his own dismissal if it happens.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on October 04, 2022
David Strom 1:31 PM on October 04, 2022