Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has faced a firestorm of criticism in the wake of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students and teachers dead, and now he’s been officially rebuked by his own deputies. The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association announced last week they were calling for a “no-confidence” vote in Israel and today brought the results: an overwhelming 534 votes out of 628 against him.
“Deputies and sergeants cast their ballots to say ‘Sheriff, we no longer have confidence in your leadership’,” said union BSO Deputies Association President Jeff Bell, reported CBS Miami.
“The time now is for the Sheriff to listen to his membership and listen to the residents of Broward County,” continued Bell. “We ask you to start changing your policies that are absolutely failing, we ask you to change your leadership to something that somewhat resembling amazing,” presumably taking a swipe at Israel’s past comments to the media that he had exhibited “amazing leadership” as sheriff.
The reality of Israel’s tenure has been a far, far cry from amazing: from the dozens of visits to the shooter’s home by BSO deputies that never resulted in an arrest, to the county’s policy of avoiding juvenile arrests even for serious and violent crimes, to the failure of BSO deputies to enter the school and engage the shooter, to Israel’s actions in the aftermath of the shooting, including his grandstanding attempts to demonize the NRA and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a CNN townhall and scapegoating of his own deputies.
Add in the alarming reports about the shooter’s brother being arrested on campus and a BSO deputy getting caught sleeping while on duty that same day at Stoneman Douglas and it is easy to understand why Israel is finding few willing to defend him.
Before the vote, Israel had dismissed the union’s efforts as “really and truly inconsequential,” and attempted to smear the vote as a tactic in the deputies’ salary negotiations. He stuck with this line after the vote and even went so far as to refer to those “who purportedly voted,” as if the vote itself were fraudulent or otherwise in question.
Sheriff Israel responds to IUPA vote: pic.twitter.com/RCuoz0Y9cO
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 26, 2018
Bell vehemently rejected Israel’s defense, saying that the deputies’ frustrations had been building for years, but the handling of the Parkland shooting was the tipping point.
“The sheriff is a complete liar, with Capital letters on that,” said Bell. “This has never been about a contract, this has been about his longstanding bad policies, his failure of leadership.”
According to Bell, the union is asking Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) to remove Israel from office. Florida law grants the governor the power to suspend a sheriff for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty,” and appoint a replacement sheriff during the suspension period. Officially removing Israel from his office would require action by the Florida Senate.
Scott’s communications director, John Tupps, issued a statement after the union vote, saying that Scott was “absolutely disgusted that the BSO deputy did not rush into the school to save these victims,” and that the governor was waiting for “a full and systemic FDLE investigation into the matter” before taking action.
Florida governor responds to IUPA-BSO vote today. Says he will wait for FDLE investigation to be complete before taking additional steps, like removing Scott Israel. pic.twitter.com/63Ll0yD7CJ
— Frank Guzman (@fguzmanon7) April 26, 2018
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.
[Cross-posted at RedState.]