Gov. DeSantis signs executive order removing Broward County sheriff

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
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By: CBSMiami
January 11, 2019

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBSMiami) – CBS4 has learned Governor Ron DeSantis signed the executive order removing embattled Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Friday afternoon while heading to the BSO parking lot.

Governor Ron DeSantis made the announcement at the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters just after 4:30 p.m. He was joined by Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Attorney General Ashley Moody.

To read the governor's executive order, click here.

According to Florida statute, the governor has the power to suspend the sheriff for actions such as “misfeasance” and “neglect of duty” and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. The actual power to remove the sheriff from office is in the hands of the state Senate.

According to the state Senate website, it makes “final dispositions” on whether to reinstate a suspended official or remove him from office.

DeSantis named retired Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony as Broward’s interim sheriff. Tony is the county’s first African-American sheriff, according to Politico.

Tony’s resume cites advanced degrees and he runs a company focused on active shooter training and response, including efforts to train civilians on ‘stop the bleed’ techniques.

It was reportedly Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre, that recommended Tony.

While campaigning last year, DeSantis said on multiple occasions that Israel should be suspended for how he and his office handled the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Seventeen people died and 17 more were hurt on Valentine’s Day when self-confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz walked through an open gate, into the MSD freshman building and opened fire.

During a November meeting of the MSD Safety Commission, Israel was brought in to answer questions.

He was asked about a perceived lack of urgency from initial arriving deputies at the school, who, in some cases, did not immediately run toward the gunfire and did not have annual active shooter training.

Israel said that any deputies who are found to have acted inappropriately or failed to act would be dealt with.

Commission members also grilled Israel over BSO’s policy for deputies dealing with an active shooter.

They said the policy as written provided deputy’s discretion on whether to confront the shooter.

Alaina Petty was killed in the MSD shooting. Her father Ryan said the failure of BSO deputies to rush into the freshman building to confront the shooter and an active shooter policy that allowed them to avoid doing so is evidence of a failure of leadership at the agency.

“I’ve called for Sheriff Israel to resign and he’s refused to do that so I’ve subsequently called for his removal and I hope Governor will do that today,” he said.

Petty said those in charge of responding to the shooting have not acted quickly enough or sufficiently enough to fix mistakes that happened.

“The response from those that had a responsibility to make sure our kids and our teachers were safe have still not recognized the mistakes that were made that day and tried to change them,” he said.

“I think BSO needs a different leader,” said Debbie Hixon whose husband Chris was killed in the MSD massacre.

Hixon said the inaction by multiple deputies when shots were being fired in a school building as a sign of a failure of leadership.

“They had all those other people that reacted very similar so to me that’s more of a systemic issue than it is an individual acting on his own,” she said.

Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said the Sheriff failed to focus on training, among other criticisms.

“There’s a big cultural change that needs to happen,” he said, “I think we’re gonna get the opportunity soon.”

Israel is likely to fight the move in the Florida Senate or possibly in court.

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