Fla governor answers 74 lawmakers call to suspend defiant Broward sheriff for ‘dereliction of duty’

Led by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, 74 state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to “immediately” suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his “incompetence and dereliction of duty” in handling the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Speaker Corcoran sent a letter to Gov. Scott on Sunday that was signed by 73 of his fellow Republicans.

“The Florida Constitution gives you the power to suspend a sheriff for ‘malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty [or] incompetence,” he wrote. “I am requesting that you immediately exercise this power and suspend Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County for incompetence and neglect of duty.”

The letter detailed how the Broward County sheriff’s office handled the many red flags on the gunman, Nikolas Cruz.

Corcoran didn’t mince words in saying people died as a direct result of Israel’s failings.

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(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance, and thoroughness amongst his deputies,” the speaker wrote. “Sheriff Israel failed to fulfill his duty to ensure that all of his deputies have the necessary active shooter tactical training. As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died.”

In a remarkable turn of events, Israel touted his “outstanding leadership” Sunday in an appearance on CNN, even as Jake Tapper grilled him on why four of his deputies remained outside the school as the killer fired on students.

When the possibility of Israel stepping down came up, the sheriff told Tapper: “Of course I won’t resign.”

Furthermore, in an interview with NBC 6, Israel refused to take responsibility for the first deputy on the scene, school resource officer Scot Peterson, failing to take action.

“Leaders are not responsible for a person. I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility,” the sheriff said.

Gov. Scott released a statement in response to Corcoran’s letter, saying he will not suspend Sheriff Israel until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts a review of his actions.

“There must be an independent investigation and that is why I asked the FDLE Commissioner to immediately start this process,” Scott said in a statement. “I have spoken to Speaker Corcoran about his request and I understand his concerns. I have spoken to the Speaker regularly since the shooting, and like me, he wants the families to have answers and for there to be full accountability. That’s what the victims and their families deserve.”

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