Plantation, FL – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has received a vote of no confidence from his deputies, and now their union will ask the governor to step in and suspend him.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, announced the results of the vote – 534 to 94 – at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
He said the union planned to present the results of the no confidence vote to Florida Governor Rick Scott and ask him to please “replace the sheriff with somebody who is capable of amazing leadership.”
“Amazing leadership starts from the top, and there is no amazing leadership here. We are a ship out at sea with no power — adrift,” Bell told the Sun-Sentinel.
Under Florida law, the governor has the power to suspect Sheriff Israel for "malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty" and "may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension,” CNN reported.
Then it would be the responsibility of the Florida State Senate to decide what to do. The senate has the power to make final decisions about what happens to an official after they have been suspended.
The union cited examples of problems that have existed throughout Sheriff Israel’s administration, but said the sheriff’s handling of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day was the last straw.
When the sheriff touted his leadership skills in an interview with CNN, the union decided it had had enough.
Sheriff Israel has defended his handling of the Parkland school massacre, and said Thursday that the no confidence vote was “unfortunate and appalling,” and nothing more than a “ploy” to advance the deputies’ salary negotiations, CNN reported.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was investigating the incident response, which included a school resource officer who stayed outside the classroom building while a gunman murdered 17 students and faculty, and wounded 16 more.
The sheriff accepted no responsibility for the numerous warning signs about future-shooter Nikolas Cruz, and he disavowed responsibility for taking action regarding Cruz in advance in an interview with CNN.
“Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about,” Sheriff Israel said. “I exercised my due diligence. I provided amazing leadership to this agency.”
As bodycam and surveillance videos of the scene at the Parkland high school were released, along with recordings of police radio traffic and 911 calls, it was revealed the Broward County incident commander had called for staging and setting up a perimeter rather than telling officers to go in and stop the shooting. It was not known at that time whether Cruz was still in the freshman building at the school.
Transcripts of radio traffic revealed that Deputy Peterson had actually told other responding officers to stay back from the buildings, and not to make entry. Video revealed that he’d stayed outside the building and taken cover while Cruz killed his former classmates.
The recordings were released more than a week after Coral Springs police officers who responded to the Parkland high school on Feb. 14 said Broward County deputies were outside the school buildings, and had taken cover behind their vehicles, when they arrived at the campus, instead of rushing toward danger to try to prevent the loss of additional life.
In the weeks that have followed the shooting and the release of investigative materials related to it, security at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continued to face challenges.
The agency has not released if their scheduling contributed to the deputy's exhaustion.