Sher­iff sus­pended over han­dling of Park­land shoot­ing

Hartford Courant - - From Page One - By Mark Ber­man Wash­ing­ton Post

Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael was sus­pended from of­fice Fri­day by Florida’s new gov­er­nor, a move that comes af­ter nearly a year of in­tense crit­i­cism over how the sher­iff’s of­fice re­sponded to a ram­page in­side a Park­land, Florida, high school.

Gov. Ron DeSan­tis, a Repub­li­can who took of­fice on Tues­day, trav­eled to Broward to an­nounce his de­ci­sion to re­move Is­rael, a Demo­crat re-elected to a sec­ond term in 2016. Is­rael be­came a light­ning rod af­ter rev­e­la­tions that one of his deputies failed to con­front the shooter and that, long be­fore the first shot was fired, the Broward Sher­iff’s Of­fice had re­peat­edly con­tacts with the for­mer stu­dent charged with killing 17 peo­ple at the school.

In his ex­ec­u­tive or­der, DeSan­tis high­lighted these and other de­tails in ex­plain­ing why he made the un­usual de­ci­sion to dis­miss an elected of­fi­cial, stat­ing that Is­rael “egre­giously” failed in his role as the top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer in Broward.

“The ne­glect of duty and the in­com­pe­tence that was con­nected to the mas­sacre at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School has been well doc­u­mented,” DeSan­tis said at a news con­fer­ence, joined by rel­a­tives of some Park­land vic­tims. “Suf­fice it to say that the mas­sacre might never have hap­pened had Broward had bet­ter lead­er­ship in the sher­iff’s depart­ment.”

DeSan­tis’ ex­ec­u­tive or­der pointed to the find­ings of a state com­mis­sion that in­ves­ti­gated the Feb. 14, 2018, shoot­ing in Park­land; his or­der also in­cludes pre­vi­ous crit­i­cisms of how Is­rael’s of­fice re­sponded to a shoot­ing at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, air­port in Jan­uary 2017. The Park­land com­mis­sion sub­mit­ted a re­port sin­gling out the Broward Sher- iff’s Of­fice for its poli­cies on on­go­ing at­tacks, a lack of train­ing and how it re­sponded to the gun­fire. The panel also found that mul­ti­ple deputies, rather than one, failed to rush to­ward the at­tacker.

Is­rael pil­lo­ried DeSan­tiss de­ci­sion as “a mas­sive po­lit­i­cal power grab by the gov­er­nor” and vowed to fight the move in court and be­fore the Florida Se­nate.

“I whole­heart­edly re­ject the state­ments in the gov­er­nor’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der as lack­ing both le­gal merit and a valid fac­tual ba­sis,” Is­rael said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence af­ter DeSan­tis’ or­der was re­leased. “There was no wrong­do­ing on my part.”

He added: “This was about pol­i­tics, not about Park­land.”

Is­rael’s at­tor­ney, Stu­art Kaplan, said they were still de­ter­min­ing their le­gal path for­ward and added that Is­rael planned to run again for sher­iff in 2020.

Un­der the Florida con­sti­tu­tion, the gov­er­nor can sus­pend of­fi­cials for rea­sons in­clud­ing “ne­glect of duty” and “in­com­pe­tence.” DeSan­tis in­voked both of those in his or­der, which says Is­rael is pro­hib­ited from re­ceiv­ing pay. To re­place Is­rael, DeSan­tis se­lected Gre­gory Tony, who runs a firm that of­fers ac­tive-shooter train­ing and is a re­tired po­lice sergeant who worked in Coral Springs, Florida, a city that neigh­bors Park­land.

DeSan­tis’ de­ci­sion to sus­pend Is­rael was widely ex­pected, as he had said dur­ing the gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign that the sher­iff should have been re­moved from of­fice. With DeSan­tis tak­ing of­fice Tues­day, me­dia re­ports be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing in South Florida say­ing Is­rael had told peo­ple he ex­pected to be sus­pended.

While mass at­tacks are often fol­lowed by re­views that re­veal mis­steps or omi­nous warn­ing signs, the Park­land shoot­ing was re­mark­able for the sheer breadth of red flags pre­ced­ing the mas­sacre. Niko­las Cruz, the 20-year-old po­lice say con­fessed to the shoot­ing, had come to the at­ten­tion of lo­cal, state and fed­eral of­fi­cials again and again. Some of the warn­ings — in­clud­ing those made to the FBI and Broward Sher­iff’s Of­fice — were ex­plicit in la­bel­ing Cruz as a threat to at­tack a school. In Florida on Fri­day, DeSan­tis of­fered ad­di­tional crit­i­cism for the FBI, call­ing its fail­ure to act “a dis­grace.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.