Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, criticized for his office’s inadequate response to last year’s Parkland, Fl., school shooting, plans to fight the decision to remove him from office, claiming he is a victim of “politics,” reports The Miami Herald.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the two-term Democratic sheriff Friday, citing the conclusions of a state panel’s investigation of the Broward County agency’s response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, said The Herald, CNN and other news outlets.
The panel found that several Broward deputies failed to run into the building to try to stop the gunman — or were slow and inadequately trained to confront the killer and stop him.
The governor’s action came three days after he was sworn in, and fulfilled a promise he made during last Fall’s election campaign to remove the sheriff.
Israel was replaced by Gregory Tony, a former Coral Springs, Fl., police sergeant with a background in active-shooter training, who will be the county’s first African-American sheriff.
Israel’s lawyer, Stuart Kaplan, said that not only would Israel fight the governor’s order, but he would run for re-election when his term ends in 2020.
“There certainly were mistakes made,’’ Kaplan said. “But in every situation we can always identify things that could be done better…it does not in any way rise to the level to single out Sheriff Israel and hold him accountable for what happened.’’
Appearing later at a meeting with reporters, Israel made clear he saw himself as a victim of political scapegoating.
“Sadly, this is not about what occurred on Feb. 14 ,’’ he said at a news conference at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale. “The governor promised as a candidate — well before he had any facts about the investigation, well before the commission even began their work — that he would remove me from office.”
Israel added: “Today he merely fulfilled a campaign promise. This was about politics — not about Parkland.”
After expressing his sympathies for the families who lost loved ones in the mass shooting, Israel insisted he had not failed in his duty.
The ousted sheriff said there was no “wrongdoing” on his part.
“I served the county honorably and I will continue to do that,” he said.
The new sheriff, who now lives in Boca Raton, left the Coral Springs Police Department after 12 years in 2016, the South Florida.