Fort Lauderdale, FL – Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel wants his job back and has filed to run for Broward sheriff again in the upcoming elections.
Newly-sworn in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Sheriff Israel within days of taking office in January.
Sheriff Israel had been the subject of intense criticism after it was discovered that members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) failed to respond to the active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in accordance with modern law enforcement training.
An investigation conducted by a special commission established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, at the request of former Governor Rick Scott, determined that multiple BSO deputies had failed to make an attempt to stop the shooter as they listened to him shoot 34 students and staff.
Seventeen students and staff were killed as a result of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre. Another 17 were wounded.
DeSantis was sworn into office only four days before he suspended Sheriff Israel.
“Once I took that oath and put my hand on the bible, I knew that oath compelled me to make this decision today,” the new governor told reporters.
Israel challenged his suspension and asked for a Senate hearing on the matter.
Stuart Kaplan, attorney for the former sheriff, said DeSantis didn’t have the authority to suspend the sheriff for things that happened before he was elected, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Kaplan also called the campaign pledge that DeSantis made to remove Sheriff Israel “improper.”
The challenge argued that allowing a newly-elected governor to get rid of the sheriff in that manner was utilizing “this removal process as a house cleaning tool to undermine the integrity of the democratic process to allow the voters to decide as to whether or not Scott Israel should remain or should be voted out,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
“Scott Israel was elected through the democratic process. The voters of Broward County spoke,” Kaplan said. “Our position is that the democratic process should remain in place and only in the most extreme circumstances” should a removal or suspension be considered.
The former sheriff recently testified before lawmakers in Tallahassee that his suspension was purely political, WPLG reported.
The governor stood by the suspension and has accused Israel of incompetence and negligence in his department’s response to the Parkland shooting and the active-shooter incident at Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International airport that left five dead and six wounded.
DeSantis has said Israel is responsible for everything that went wrong with BSO's response to both mass shootings, WPLG reported.
While Israel waits for a ruling from the Senate on whether his suspension was proper, he has launched his campaign to get his old job back through the ballot box.
He told WPLG that the outcome of the Senate hearing would have no impact on whether he ran. He said he’s counting on the voters to put him back in office.
"I'm out and about. I haven't stopped campaigning, even post-suspension, and I know that the Broward County residents, the Broward County voter, is fully aware that we had a governor make a promise - a campaign promise - to suspend the sheriff," Israel said.
But his campaign announcement came on the heels of bad news for the sheriff’s office.
The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) recently revoked the law enforcement accreditation of BSO, WPLG reported.
Their report cited the sheriff’s department’s mishandling of both mass shootings that occurred when Israel was sheriff.
"It is disheartening for the hardworking members of the Broward Sheriff's Office to lose our accreditation because of the previous administration's mishandling of two devastating events in our community," Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who replaced Israel, said. "Since recently taking command, I have worked on improving BSO and repairing the effects of bad leadership and negligence by focusing on training and community relations. I will continue working hard to ensure that all Broward residents feel safe and that our agency's reputation and honor are restored."