It isn’t enough to say that Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel is incompetent. He’s anti-competent.
There’s been plenty of evidence over the 10 months that have elapsed since the Parkland school shooting that students and teachers died because of Israel’s policies and the pusillanimity of his deputies, who refused to rush the killer until it was too late.
And now, less than two months before the anniversary of the shooting, he’s literally done the least he could do — he’s changed wording in the written policy of the sheriff’s office to mandate deputies confront active shooters if they can.
That’s part of a plan Israel sent to the state commission investigating the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on past Feb. 14, according to The Washington Times.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) December 30, 2018
Previous language — authored by Israel — said only that deputies “may” confront active shooters. Before that, according to a report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the plan said that deputies “shall” confront shooters.
Israel told the state commission he’d changed the policy to “may” confront to prevent deputies from rushing into situations that might be fatal, according to the Miami Herald. So the new policy is actually a reversion to the old policy.
Other initiatives outlined in the letter included an additional eight hours of active-shooter training for deputies, a week of such training for deputies based in schools, issuing carbines to school deputies in addition to handguns, and the creation of a Threat Assessment Unit and an internal committee that would look at the findings of the state commission.
This, may I again remind you, is more than 10 months after 17 teens and adults were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
With the exception of the internal committee to address the findings of the state commission — which only released an early draft of its recommendations earlier this month, according to WRLN-FM — there isn’t a single thing that couldn’t have been done within a month of the tragedy.
The general details of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s failures were already known in some detail at that point. Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer, refused to confront the shooter even though statements Peterson made over the radio indicated he knew which building the gunman was in. Peterson also ordered intersections to be blocked off, leading to impeded response time. Even more deputies refused to rush in after the killer.
The final details were all compiled in the Sun-Sentinel report linked above, which I urge you to read. It’s a compendium of failure, made all the more tragic by the loss of life it caused. But perhaps most nauseatingly, Sheriff Israel doesn’t seem to acknowledge any failure on the part of his department.
“That responsibility is with the killer,” he said, according to the Sun-Sentinel, when asked last week about the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and its responsibility — as if the two were mutually exclusive.
He made similar comments in an earlier interview with the Sun-Sentinel.
“I’m certainly responsible for everything that goes on at the agency, good or bad,” Israel said. “But as I’ve said before, the only person responsible for the deaths of those individuals and shooting 17 other people is the killer.”
At least he’s less impenitent than before. For instance, take what happened when Jake Tapper asked him, during a CNN interview, “if the Broward Sheriff’s Office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened.”
“Listen, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books,” Israel said.
That alone should have prompted Israel’s resignation or ouster. So many things to do with the Parkland shooting, if taken in isolation, should have led to Israel’s resignation or ouster. Now, after 10 months of deflection and jokes, he gives us a Threat Assessment Unit and orders his deputies to do their job when it comes to mass shooters.
If Israel is “certainly responsible for everything that goes on at the agency, good or bad,” he needs to go. If he won’t take the necessary steps, it’s worth noting that Florida’s governor can suspend him. Families of Parkland victims have called upon outgoing Gov. Rick Scott to make the move. Incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis has intimated he might be willing to take such a step.
I don’t care who does it, but someone needs to — before the next avertable tragedy happens. This is simply too little, too late.
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