Re the Sept. 26 article, “Suspended sheriff should be reinstated, ruling says”: The independent arbitrator, Dudley Goodlette, and perhaps Gov. Ron DeSantis, fell short in ensuring that an appropriate inquiry would be conducted regarding the validity of Scott Israel’s removal from duty. The article also raises questions about the evidence provided and how it was evaluated.
Although Goodlette is correct in stating that the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) was a “culmination of individual failures,” he failed to acknowledge that all mistakes do not carry the same degree of weight. Goodlette lost sight of a significant failure solely on the part of Israel; his deliberate revision of a Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) policy in which he gave officers the discretion to confront an active shooter. Yet, Goodlette said, in part, “the governor failed to produce evidence that BSO’s ‘active shooter policy’ was deficient, or that a different policy was used by sheriffs in other counties.”
If BSO’s policy was acceptable, why did Israel revise it, removing officer discretion to confront active shooters, after the shooting at MSD? The policy revision is crucial and carries the preponderance of weight since it enabled BSO deputies the right to choose whether to confront Nicholas Cruz.
Even if law enforcement training and supervision were within or exceeded acceptable standards, and communications systems were fully operational, the underlying premise of officer discretion to confront Cruz, granted by policy, would prevail; rendering compromised performance standards for BSO deputies. Although administrators do make mistakes, a mistake of this nature and magnitude is not expected of a seasoned, knowledgeable law enforcement professional.
Goodlette is a lawyer specializing in environmental and land use law; and real property, probate and trust. In his role as arbitrator, perhaps he did not do his homework and is too far removed from first-hand knowledge of law enforcement operations.