The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is a mess. While I have no doubt there are good, capable deputies within the department, they’re marred by being in the same department with Sheriff Scott Israel.
The embattled sheriff’s woes began with the Parkland shooting but only seem to grow, probably in part due to his vocal stance on gun control in the immediate aftermath now looking like a case of wagging the dog.
The latest is the sheer number of investigations by the Broward State Attorney’s office into the sheriff’s department. There is a pile of them.
Since 2012, there have been more than 66 investigations into the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, 40 of them occurring under embattled Sheriff Scott Israel’s watch, investigative journalist Sara Carter reported Tuesday.
The investigations by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office are for serious misconduct, ranging from drug trafficking to kidnapping to in some cases killings, according to a Brady list provided by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
Now Israel’s office is under investigation for allegations that his deputies blocked first responders from treating patients at the scene of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, and failed to enter the school during the rampage that left 17 people dead.
Amid growing calls over the weekend for Israel to resign, the embattled sheriff has refused to take any responsibility for failures of his department.
Yet records show that Broward County police responded to at least 45 calls involving suspected Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz or his family over a seven-year period. Israel disputes the report, saying that his office only received 23 calls during that time frame, but whether the number is 23 or 45 or something in between, the calls were serious and should have led the department to take action. They included incidents in which Cruz “held a gun up to his mom’s head” (a felony), imbibed gasoline, cut himself, and rubbed “his hands in glee thinking of the inheritance that he was going to get as a result of his adopted father dying.”
Despite Israel’s claim of “amazing leadership,” it’s clear something needs to be done with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. No matter how much Israel protests, he has failed as a leader. What happens in his office happens on his watch, and he’s responsible for what happens on his watch. It’s just that simple.
Israel’s School Resource Officer (SRO) refused to enter the school and engage the Parkland shooter. His department reportedly had other deputies outside that also refused to enter. And, now we hear that his deputies blocked first responders from treating patients at the scene.
How many of those 17 dead would have lived if Israel’s department didn’t cower and expect everyone else to do the same? What would the death toll of this atrocity be if the most common sense of acts–namely to engage the threat and to allow the wounded to be treated–had been followed?
To be fair, we’ll never really know for certain. However, we can guess, and I think most of us suspect the death toll could have been much lower if the shooter had been met with armed resistance far earlier.