Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted Wednesday that he may oust Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, who has been criticized over his agency’s response to the worst school shooting in Florida history.
Speaking at a press conference in Miami announcing his first pick for the Florida Supreme Court, the newly sworn-in Republican governor was asked whether he plans to suspend Israel, a Democrat. “All I can say to the people of South Florida is that I shall return very soon,” he said, adding: “It won’t take long.”
DeSantis, sworn in Tuesday as Florida’s governor, was speaking at Miami’s Freedom Tower, where he announced appellate court judge Barbara Lagoa as the state’s newest high court justice.
DeSantis was asked about Israel one day after news broke that the sheriff has told command staff that he expects to be suspended.
Critics have savaged the Broward Sheriff’s Office for its response to the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Former student Nikolas Cruz entered the building armed with an AR-15, shooting and killing 17 students and staff members.
Former Gov. Rick Scott established a commission to explore law enforcement response to the shooting, as well as Cruz’s troubled history through the schools and mental health system. A commission report sent to the governor’s office earlier this month pointed out a host of security breakdowns and police blunders, and blamed an array of institutions — from law enforcement to social service providers to school officials who knew of Cruz’s troubling fixations with violence and weapons.
Notoriously, Broward Deputy Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the school, remained outside the freshman building, even as Cruz rampaged inside. Officers are generally trained to immediately engage an active shooter, although Peterson has insisted he did not not know that Cruz was inside the building.
The BSO response was also marked by confusion and the failure of the radio system, the commission found.