Florida governor suspends Sheriff Scott Israel over Parkland massacre response

Scott Israel, seen here at a press conference in the aftermath of the February 2018 Parkland school shooting accused Governor Ron De Santis of having political motives

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who faced criticism over his department's response to the deadly Parkland, Florida, school shooting a year ago, was officially suspended by newly sworn-in Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday.

"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.

Politico reports that the new appointee will be Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony.

Israel said DeSantis vowed to remove him as sheriff when he was campaigning for governor.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is investigating the shooting, presented its initial report to state officials January 2. It was reported in the wake of the shooting that one of Israel's deputies, Scot Peterson, did not enter the school as the massacre took place.

"For these reasons, I am suspending Sheriff Israel from office effective immediately", he wrote. Israel told them he didn't want deputies to think they had to conduct suicide missions.

"This suspension is not about what occurred on February 14th", Israel said.

"These incidents demonstrate Sheriff's Israel's repeated incompetence and neglect of duty", the order said.

Seventeen students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School almost a year ago.

Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty.

In a separate statement introducing Tony, DeSantis added, "The people of Broward County deserve accountable, competent leaders who can safeguard our communities".

Israel, whose elected term ends in 2020, has said he would not leave office voluntarily.

The aircraft that DeSantis is using is a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air seized by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as part of a drug bust. His office also appears not to have followed up on tips that Cruz was unsafe prior to the shooting.

"The facts do not warrant that Sheriff Israel in any way was incompetent in connection with this horrendous shooting", he said.

"I've given incredible leadership to this agency", Israel said on CNN, weeks after the shooting.

Three Broward Sheriff's Office deputies resigned, saying they did so as a result of Israel's suspension, according to command separation forms released by the sheriff's office.

He was joined on Friday by some parents of slain students at the high school who supported his move.

According to the Miami New Times, Tony has extensive training in active shooter response. He criticized the draft, and the final version was less harsh - but numerous same communications problems that plagued the airport response were repeated at Stoneman Douglas.



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