Florida House Justice Appropriations Chairman Bill Hager (R, Boca Raton) is the first lawmaker to formally ask for the removal of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel after the nationwide outrage over his involvement in the February 14th Parkland school shooting. Hager explained the move in a press release which included a copy of his official letter to Governor Rick Scott on Saturday:
Under Florida Statute 112.52 (1), Governor Scott has removal authority for neglect of duty and incompetence.
Various news outlets have confirmed that the School Resource Officer and three Broward Sheriff Deputies were on the scene at the time of the attack and chose to take cover themselves rather than stepping up to protect students. Apparently, none of these trained officers made an effort to enter the building to protect students and teachers to save lives. It was not until deputies from the Coral Springs Police Department arrived, a Department not under the authority of the BSO, that uniformed officers actually entered the school and took action.
Additionally, it has been reported that there were 23 calls to the Broward Sheriff’s Office relating to Nikolas Cruz/his residence, and that there were 39 related visits by Broward Sheriff Deputies.
Said Chairman Hager: “An investigation into the incomprehensible inaction of these deputies by Sheriff Israel will do nothing to bring back the 17 victims. The Sheriff was or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it. Sadly, he was not the only one that ignored it. DCF, Broward County Schools, the FBI and the BSO all had pivotal information but failed to act appropriately and failed to communicate appropriately. This failure to communicate shows that a modernization of our law enforcement and state government agencies is necessary.”
Continued Hager: “It is too late for those 17 victims for Sheriff Israel to investigate the deputies’ inactions at the crime scene. It is too late for the families – that will never fully recover – for Sheriff Israel to look into the failure of his office to conclude that this disturbed individual was a threat. It is too late for the students, staff, and the residents of Parkland and Coral Springs for Sheriff Israel to investigate why his office failed to coordinate with the Department of Children and Families and missed the opportunity to limit or prevent this atrocity.”
In addition to Sheriff Israel’s removal Chairman Hager is proposing that certain dollars currently scheduled for appropriation for the Broward Sheriff’s Office be redirected to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) – in order to initiate a pilot program in Broward County that will integrate and analyze data from various law enforcement, courts, state agencies, and school districts to better assess risk and keep our citizens safe. “One thing I continue to hear after the tragedy in Parkland is that law enforcement agencies, state agencies, our court system and school district each had a piece of the puzzle, but only a piece. This breakdown in communication is unacceptable. I believe it’s time we leverage the data we have from all of these various sources, and use it to our advantage so that we can better identify risk and do a better job of protecting our students and residents” stated Chairman Hager.
Letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott: