Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is hoping to soon get his job back.
And while the Florida Senate still has to make the final decision on the failures of the Department under Israel’s leadership during the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a report defending Israel’s actions has offered him a glimmer of hope.
Lawyer and former state legislator Dudley Goodlette took aim at Gov. Ron DeSantis in a report he submitted to the Florida Senate after conducting a review of Israel’s case, saying the governor failed to prove there was a “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” on the part of the Broward Sheriff.
“Imposing such sweeping responsibility upon an elected official would establish an unworkable precedent,” Goodlette wrote. “Almost any elected official overseeing a large organization would be subject to removal at any time because even well-trained and supervised employees can make grievous mistakes.”
Israel was grateful for the support in light of the attacks on his incompetence in handling everything following the mass shooting that left 17 people dead.
“I’m very humbled and very grateful to God for what happened today,” he said. “I’ve spent a lifetime in law enforcement. I just want to get back and do what I was elected to do.”
DeSantis suspended Israel in January – just days after taking office – and was flanked by family members of the victims. The Republican lawmaker was not in agreement with Goodlette’s recommendation to reinstate Israel.
“The victims with families impacted by the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School deserve justice and accountability,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“I disagree with the analysis contained in the non-binding recommendation; the senators will render their own independent judgment on Scott Israel,” he added. “Floridians were appalled by Scott Israel’s repeated failures and expect their senators will provide the accountability that the Parkland families have sought for the past year and a half.”
And many of those families spoke out about the special investigator’s conclusions.
Fred Guttenberg was “horrified” by the recommendation that Israel get his job back.
“He failed before that day, he failed during that day, and he clearly failed after that day,” Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland massacre, said, according to Sun-Sentinal. “The idea he would even have a chance of stepping back into that seat is mind-boggling, and I hope it doesn’t happen.”
Andrew Pollack lost his daughter Meadow in the attack, and tweeted that Israel’s failure as a leader “cost my daughter her life” while he thanked the governor for “doing the right thing.”
Thank you @RonDeSantisFL for doing the right thing.
Scott’s failed leadership cost my daughter her life.
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) September 27, 2019
I agree with @GovRonDeSantis and reject the recommendation to reinstate Scott Israel as well.
I expect protection, not politics, from the @FLSenate.
Broward will once again become vulnerable to deadly incompetence if they vote this coward back! https://t.co/Aj9Z4GsfCn
— Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) September 27, 2019
Though Goodlette did not find that in suspending Israel, DeSantis had exceeded his authority, he argued that the shooting was a “culmination of individual failures,” not just of Israel. He also dismissed the suspended sheriff’s claim that the governor acted with political motivation.
“These arguments are a red herring and ultimately fall on deaf ears,” Goodlette wrote. “My task is to review the evidence submitted to determine if Sheriff Israel was incompetent or neglected his duties. The impetus for Sheriff Israel’s suspension has no bearing on these questions.”
Israel hopes to regain the trust of the Parkland families.
“I walked through the crime scene; it still weighs heavy on my heart,” he said. “Today is not a good day because there were still lives lost in Parkland. I hope to regain their trust.”
The Florida Senate’s decision will seal Israel’s fate as Goodlette’s recommendation is considered. Lawmakers will deliver their final decision in a special session the week of Oct. 21
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