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As Calls For Broward Sheriff’s Removal Mount, Scott Orders Investigation of School Shooting Response

| February 26, 2018

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is facing calls to resign. (Facebook)

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is facing calls to resign. (Facebook)

Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to “immediately” investigate the response of law-enforcement authorities to the mass shooting this month that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The directive came as House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, sent a letter requesting that Scott suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. The letter, which was joined by 73 Republican House members, came a day after Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, called for Israel’s removal. Israel is a Democrat.

A Broward County deputy resigned Thursday after it was determined he failed to enter the school while the shooting was ongoing. Other questions have been raised about whether law enforcement adequately responded in the past to warnings about shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Scott’s directive to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen did not detail the reasons for the request or how long the investigation could take.

During a television appearance Sunday, Israel pushed back against Hager’s removal request, which came in a letter to Scott.

“It was a shameful letter. It was politically motivated,” Israel told CNN’s Jack Tapper. “I never met that man (Hager). He doesn’t know anything about me. And the letter was full of misinformation.”

In the letter, Hager, who is chairman of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, called for Scott to remove Israel for “neglect of duty and incompetence.” The letter Sunday from Corcoran used similar descriptions.

“Sheriff Israel’s fundamental duty is to keep the peace and protect the citizens of Broward County,” said Corcoran’s letter, posted on Twitter. “He has the power and responsibility to appoint highly-qualified deputies and to ensure they receive state-of-the-art training. Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies.”

Along with the highly publicized failure of school-resource officer Scot Peterson to enter the building during the shooting, Hager and Corcoran wrote that Israel’s agency had received numerous calls previously about threats posed by Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student charged with 17 counts of murder in the shooting spree.

In his letter, Hager also said other agencies, including the Florida Department of Children and Families and the FBI, did not properly follow up on signals that Cruz could be a threat.

“Sadly, he (Israel) was not the only one that ignored it,” Hager wrote. “DCF, Broward County Schools, the FBI and the BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) all had the pieces to put this puzzle together but failed to communicate. While you do not have authority to remove anyone at the FBI, you do have the authority to remove Sheriff Israel, and I encourage you do to so immediately.”

Scott has called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign over the federal agency’s acknowledged failure to follow protocol on a tip regarding the shooter. He has not made discussed changes in leadership at the Department of Children and Families, which deemed Cruz, who admitted cutting himself and planning to purchase a gun on Snapchat posts, a “low” threat to harm himself or others in late 2016

Hager blamed Israel for failing to coordinate with the Department of Children and Families and has requested that state money intended for the Broward Sheriff’s Office be redirected to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to start a pilot program in the county to better assess risk.

On Saturday, Israel sent a letter to Scott, disputing information from Hager as “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.”

Israel wrote that Peterson was the only officer on campus at the time of the attack and that despite assertions by Hager and others, the sheriff’s office didn’t make 39 visits to Cruz’s home.

Israel agreed with Hager that the sheriff’s office received 23 calls regarding Cruz’s home but contended most were “routine” parenting issues and five involved the shooter’s brother.

Israel noted two encounters involving Cruz remain under investigation. One, for example, involved the school resource officer referring Cruz to the Department of Children and Families, which closed the case a couple of months later. He also touted the work of law-enforcement agencies, including police from Coral Springs, Sunrise and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“I am very proud of the incredible work that so many from BSO and other agencies (including CSPD, FDLE, Sunrise, FBI, ATF and others) performed on February 14,” Israel wrote. “And I am equally appalled that Rep. Hager felt the need to engage in disingenuous political grandstanding, perhaps in the hope he will garner some headlines, at the expense of the truth.”

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “As Calls For Broward Sheriff’s Removal Mount, Scott Orders Investigation of School Shooting Response”

  1. GY says:

    This is not the time to point fingers at Sheriff Israel. Wait until FDLE and Gov. Rick’s chosen team present as facts before judging a Sheriff who has done an exemplary job for Broward citizens.

  2. William Ratigan says:

    The school system, Scott Israel and the FBI have blood on their hands. Diverting attention to the gun used is blatant leftist misdirection. Those children were sacrificed on the alter of the political agenda of gun control which is merely a code-word for people control. Stop the madness and hold these people responsible. Our rights keep in step with the advancements in technology, if they weren’t, then journalists would be making cave drawings instead of using high speed data communication. If people were serious about saving lives then planned parenthood would not have the right to kill the innocent and sell their body parts to the highest bidder. The left and the government enablers are soaked in the blood of the innocent. Stop the hypocrisy and protect the children.

  3. PCer says:

    Blame rests solely in the hands of the shooter. If you want to go a little further, then blame the laws that allowed him to buy a gun. Blame the system that did not get him the help he needed. Blame yourself for putting representatives in office that politicize the situation instead of finding real solutions.

  4. Outsider says:

    Blame lies primarily with the shooter for sure, but “the system,” specifically the sheriff and the FBI failed in their duty to protect the citizens. The sheriff, as the local law enforcement agency is the first line of defense. There is no such thing as multiple “routine parenting issues” when the police are involved multiple times. I’ve been raising kids for twenty years and there have been no “routine” police visits involving my children. They knew this guy was a powder keg and did nothing. The FBI failed miserably. For nearly two decades we’ve been told “If you see something, say something.” Well, people said something and the response was nothing; the result was catastrophic. Now the left wants to take out their vengeance on law abiding people. Why do we have to dumb down society to the lowest common denominator? They do it with the schools, the law and everything else. If the laws were enforced properly and law enforcement did its job this wouldn’t have happened, and it shouldn’t have happened.

  5. Dave says:

    Coming from the Govenor who failed to even speak to us at the town hall, seems like revenge for the not so kind words the sheriff had for the Govenor, which we all knw are true

  6. Chris A Pickett says:

    Perhaps better to no let officers who have gone R.O.A.D. be school resource officers. For those who do not understand that acronym, it stands for RETIRED ON ACTIVE DUTY.

  7. Gkimp says:

    Total lack of leadership at the BCSO, Coral Springs officers respond and enter. What’s the difference? Leadership!

  8. Pogo says:


    So tricky ricky and the rest of the mutts who’ve starved resources for mental health, public health, public schools, and all the other parts of the problem that they blab about now so that they can avoid speaking about the goddamn murder weapon – a battlefield rifle equipped with enormous ammunition magazines – have found another squirrel to chase. They are shameless grafters stalling, changing the subject – grasping anything within reach – to keep attention off of the gun and the gun sellers, aka, the NRA.

    Vote them out.

  9. Andy says:

    We need more guns! Second amendment something something! Help me out, gun nuts! Let’s do anything except try regulating that militia well! U S A! U S A!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Governor Scott, You should have been involved knowing this could have happened anytime and anywhere. Nothing can be done now to bring these precious lives back. This appears to be more of a pat me on the back motive because my term is up and I want you to elect me for a higher offer motive. Please, stop with the pat on the back BS and clean up this corrupt state You know and have known this state is corrupt from the top to the bottom and you for 2 terms have done NOTHING about this fact!!! Yes, it is time you got to work and get off your soap box.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Calling the FDLE in is nothing more than more corruption and cover ups……….RICK SCOTT you are a joke! Can’t wait till your term as Governor is up and I hope the American People are smart enough to never elect you into public office of any kind again!

  12. smarterthanmost says:

    “Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies.”

    This is what you get when a politician is in charge of your police force, trickle down leadership. Except, there was none to trickle down, as evidenced by the reaction of BSO.

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