Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel continued Wednesday to defend his actions and leadership at the time of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February of 2018 in which 17 students and school staff were killed by a former student at the school.
Israel continued to insist he was being made a political scapegoat by Gov. Ron DeSantis who suspended Israel earlier this year alleging “neglect of duty” and “incompetence.”
“I’ve been called some names in my time, but on my 63 years on earth … I have never been called incompetent and I have never been called negligent,” Israel said on the opening day of the hearing on Tuesday. “I know these hearings are about taking my livelihood away from me, but incompetent and negligent? No sir.”
During Wednesday’s testimony, Nicholas Primrose, an attorney representing the Governor’s Office suggested Israel could have provided more training to his deputies to better prepare them for active shooter situations.
Primrose pointed out that the department was unprepared for another mass shooting 13 months earlier at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport that left five people dead. He suggested Israel and his department should have been better prepared for the Parkland shooting.
“Confusion, unclear command orders and a lack of training” of deputies resulted in an “abysmal response,” Primrose said in reference to a preliminary report conducted following the airport shooting.
“There were many failures that could have been prevented if Scott Israel prioritized training and policies specific to the airport,” Primrose argued.
“If they think I could provide any woman or man on this earth with courage and the desire to go inside when their conscious is telling them ‘I’m not going in there,’” Israel said. “There’s no sheriff, there’s no police leader, there’s no football coach or there’s no general that’s going to get someone to go in when the human element takes over and they say to themselves, ‘I’m not going in.’”
A special master appointed by the Florida Senate is this hearing Israel’s appeal of his suspension this week. Special Master Dudley Goodlette will recommend to the Senate whether to uphold Israel’s suspension or reinstate him as sheriff. The Senate could take up the matter later this year.