Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who faced heavy criticism for his handling of the 2018 Parkland shooting, was suspended by newly inaugurated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, following days of speculation.
“Sheriff Israel has repeatedly failed and has demonstrated a pattern of poor leadership,” DeSantis said in a statement on Friday, accusing Israel of demonstrating “repeated incompetence and neglect of duty.”
“He failed to protect Floridians and visitors during the tragic Fort Lauderdale International Airport shooting in 2017,” DeSantis said. “He failed in his duties to keep our families and children safe during the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”
The two-term sheriff came under fire for his handling of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed by gunman Nikolas Cruz, who has confessed to the shooting.
An investigative report released last week by a public safety commission detailed the failings of law enforcement officers in response to the shooting.
In his executive order suspending Israel, DeSantis detailed the failure of the sheriff’s office to follow up on potential warnings about Cruz, as well as its policy for dealing with an active shooter, which said that a deputy “may” confront an active shooter, but could use their discretion.
Surveillance video released in March showed Broward County Sheriff’s Office school resource officer Scot Peterson approach a school door as the shooting was happening, never entering the building. He then ran toward another building and took up a “tactical position.” Peterson’s actions were heavily criticized, leading to an internal affairs investigation led by Israel. Peterson later resigned.
Shortly after the shooting, Republican lawmakers called on then-governor Rick Scott to suspend Israel for “incompetence” and “neglect of duty.”