Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel reportedly told his top commanders he will be removed from office by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, though the newly sworn-in chief executive declined to confirm it on Wednesday.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office union chief Jeff Bell said that Israel, 62, told his staff on Monday “that his ouster was inevitable,” according to the Miami Herald.
“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.
Calls for Israel to resign began shortly after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, which left 17 people dead, Fox News reported.
It was determined that one of his deputies, school resource officer Scot Peterson, failed to enter the school to confront the shooter, while three other sheriff’s deputies who arrived at the scene took cover behind their vehicles, according to CNN.
In April, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, by an overwhelming majority, voted “no confidence” in Israel.
The Herald reported that a state panel investigating the shooting released its findings last week, which blamed security breakdowns at the school and a lack of training among Broward sheriff’s deputies as contributing factors to the tragedy.
Stuart N. Kaplan, one of Israel’s lawyers, said his client is still at work and no word has been communicated about any impending removal.
“The governor has not said anything to us, directly or indirectly, as to whether or not the sheriff is going to be suspended,’’ Kaplan said. “He is working and continues to serve the citizens of Broward County.’’
DeSantis declined to confirm on Wednesday whether he will remove Israel, the Sun Sentinel reported.
“We will let you know when we’re back — and it’s not going to take forever,” the governor told reporters in Miami.
During the campaign, DeSantis said if he had been governor during the shooting, he would have suspended Israel.
Following the February shooting, Israel came out in support of gun control measures in Florida. During a CNN town hall days after Parkland, he accused National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch of not “standing up for the students” by opposing the changes.
“You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them,” Israel told Loesch. “You’re not standing up for them, until you say I want less weapons.”
The NRA tweeted in response, “No Sheriff Israel you were the one that didn’t PROTECT these children and that is your job. You run the largest fully accredited sheriff’s office in the United States, yet your office failed this community.”
No Sheriff Israel you were the one that didn’t PROTECT these children and that is your job. You run the largest fully accredited sheriff’s office in the United States, yet your office failed this community. https://t.co/lauyeNedob
— NRA (@NRA) February 23, 2018
Loesch responded to the news of Israel’s potential ouster on Facebook, writing, “If true, it would be FANTASTIC news.”
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