A Florida lawmaker is calling for the removal of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel following recent revelations regarding what his department did and didn’t do before and during the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
In a letter, Republican state Rep. Bill Hager, chairman of the Florida House of Justice Appropriations, asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Israel from his position due to his department’s “unfathomable inaction.”
According to Hager, school resource officer Scot Peterson, a deputy under Israel, was “on campus at the time of the attack,” along with three other deputies.
However, Hager stated that they “chose to take cover themselves rather than stepping up to protect our students.”
“An investigation by Sheriff Israel into the unfathomable inaction of those deputies will do nothing to bring back the 17 victims,” he added, according to WPEC.
He also noted that the sheriff’s department missed several warning signs exhibited by suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz prior to the Valentine’s Day attack.
“The Sheriff was fully aware of the threat this individual presented to the community and chose to ignore it,” Hager wrote.
As reported by the Miami Herald, Cruz was repeatedly flagged by local and federal law enforcement agencies for erratic and dangerous behavior.
Israel’s department was contacted 23 times about the alleged shooter or his home in the years leading up to the shooting.
The Herald also noted that deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office visited Cruz’s residence 39 times prior to the massacre, however, no further action was ever taken.
And in November, an anonymous person tipped off the sheriff’s office about the suspected shooter’s reckless behavior, stating that he “could be a school shooter in the making.”
However, deputies failed to follow up on the tip.
Further investigation revealed that Peterson, the recently resigned school resource officer, received a report in 2016 stating that Cruz “planned to shoot up the school.”
Once again, no further action was taken.
In his statement, Hager further explained that this isn’t the first time the Broward sheriff’s office has been placed under review.
According to an investigative report from a local journalist, the sheriff’s department was cited for failing to implement a unified command structure prior to the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting on Jan. 6, 2017.
While Hager’s letter to the governor explicitly criticized Israel and his agency’s incompetence, the lawmaker’s grievances were also aimed at other levels of government for a breakdown in communication
“Sadly, he was not the only one that ignored it,” Hager said of Israel in a statement released to the media. “(The Department of Children and Families), Broward County Schools, the FBI and the BSO all had pivotal information but failed to act appropriately and failed to communicate appropriately.”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Sunday that Scott has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the Broward sheriff’s office’s response to the Parkland shooting.
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