Florida Governor Suspends Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Over Parkland Shooting Response

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who has refused to resign in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting nearly a year ago, was suspended and replaced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday.

DeSantis cited Israel's "incompetence" and said he "demonstrated a pattern of poor leadership" after the Fort Lauderdale International Airport shooting in 2017 and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

"These incidents demonstrate Sheriff's Israel's repeated incompetence and neglect of duty," DeSantis wrote in his executive order. "The families of the victims deserve accountability. It is my job as Governor to ensure that the safety of our local communities, especially the safety of our children, is paramount. Government officials must be held accountable for their actions, and/or inactions. For these reasons, I am suspending Sheriff Israel from office effective immediately."

DeSantis later picked former Coral Springs Sgt. Gregory Tony to replace Israel. Tony is the first black sheriff of Broward County.

"Gregory Tony will be a champion for Broward County who will work tirelessly to safeguard our schools and our streets while ensuring accountability within the Sheriff's office," DeSantis said in a statement.

Tony called his appointment an "enormous honor and privilege" and vowed to "fix the problems that exist."

According to the Miami New Times, Tony has extensive training in active shooter response. The 40-year-old joined the Coral Springs police department in October 2005 and joined the SWAT team in 2009 and became sergeant in 2014.

Two years later, Tony left the department to work at his company Blue Spear Solutions, a firm that provides "state of the art training and awareness related to preventative strategies and response for Active Shooter/Mass Casualty incidents," according to his website. The Philadelphia native founded the company with his wife Holly in 2015.

Israel held a defiant press conference at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, insisting his removal was really about politics. The two-term sheriff is a Democrat, and his removal came three days after DeSantis, a Republican, was sworn in.

"Sadly, this is not about what occurred on Feb. 14 [2018]," Israel said, reports the Miami Herald. "The governor promised as a candidate — well before he had any facts about the investigation, well before the commission even began their work — that he would remove me from office. Today he merely fulfilled a campaign promise. This was about politics — not about Parkland."

Since the Parkland shooting, in which 14 students and three staff members were killed, Israel and his office have been criticized for their response to the shooting. A report determined that BSO deputies did not run into the building to try to stop the gunman or were not adequately trained to stop him.

Israel refused to resign, and on Friday, he insisted there was "no wrongdoing on my part," adding, " I served the county honorably and I will continue to do that."

His lawyer, Stuart Kaplan, said Israel will fight DeSantis' order and plans to run for re-election in 2020.


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