Sheriff criticized over Parkland shooting response removed from office

VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Florida governor suspends Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced today he is officially suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

The Miami Herald reports that the governor will name retired Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony as Broward's interim sheriff.

"Everyone on board is safe and we expect to be in Broward County later this afternoon", Vasquez said.

"Effective immediately, I am officially suspending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his repeated failures, incompetence and neglect of duty", DeSantis tweeted Friday.

"He failed to protect Floridians and visitors during the tragic Fort Lauderdale International Airport shooting in 2017", DeSantis said.

At a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis took questions from reporters on topics ranging from his latest appointments to the South Florida Water Management District to Thursday's robust environmental policy addressed in an executive order.

"He failed in his duties to keep our families and children safe during the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14,2018", according to a statement by DeSantis.

Flanked by his supporters and his wife Susan, Israel said he will be fighting his suspension. Israel's lawyer, Stuart Kaplan, said this week the sheriff did nothing warranting removal and his future should be left to Broward voters in the 2020 election.

The Florida Senate ultimately makes the decision whether an official is suspended after the governor has given the Senate a notice of suspension.

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Under Florida law, he is entitled to a hearing in the Florida Senate, which can decide to reinstate the sheriff or remove him from office.

Israel said that any deputies who are found to have acted inappropriately or failed to act would be dealt with. He said he didn't want to deputies to undertake suicide missions. According to the panel, that created confusion and led to inaction by eight deputies responding to the high school shooter.

"I do believe we've got the right guy", Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, said.

Israel was criticized for touting his "amazing leadership" during a CNN interview in the days after the shooting.

DeSantis, a Republican elected to the office in November and sworn in earlier this week, criticized the sheriff during his campaign and had signaled that he would have likely removed Israel from office.

Israel, 62, was elected sheriff in 2012 after a long career in law enforcement.

Israel has resisted calls for his resignation, including from some parents whose children were victims of the Parkland school shooting.

"A mechanical issue forced the plane to divert over to St. Petersburg", said DeSantis spokesman David Vasquez.

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