It didn’t take long after Parkland for people to figure out that something was up. Almost immediately, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was ready to blame guns for the mass killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was ready to blame anything and everything outside of the control of him and his buddies in local government.
But as time went on, we found a very different picture. We found one of Sheriff Israel’s deputies hiding outside the high school rather than trying to engage the gunman. We discovered numerous times when his officers failed to arrest the future killer for crimes that would have prohibited him from buying a firearm. Frankly, we found that Scott Israel sucked at his job.
Unfortunately, the local paper didn’t see it that way…until now.
After defending Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for months against Republican criticism over his office’s failed handling of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the left-leaning Sun Sentinel editorial board published a lengthy editorial Wednesday on “the failed leadership of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel” that explains why they now agree with Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis that Israel must go.
“It’s a big deal for a governor to remove an elected sheriff, especially if the governor is a Republican and the sheriff is the most powerful Democrat in Florida’s most Democratic county,” the Sun Sentinel editorial board states. But after reviewing a draft of the state commission’s report on the shooting, the editors have concluded that Israel simply cannot be allowed to stay in office.
“[A] community of our size is going to face another tragedy,” the editors conclude. “It’s just a matter of where and when. And if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Given Sheriff Israel’s failure to learn from history — and his failures during our community’s most horrific events — we now stand with those who believe he should be removed and replaced.”
The editors begin by underscoring that they have repeatedly defended Israel against criticism they believed to be premature, including in late February when Republicans called for Gov. Rick Scott to suspend him for incompetence and in April when the deputies’ union voted no confidence in him “largely because of pay raises.”
“We’ve suggested all along that people hold their fire until more details are known,” they write. “But after seeing the damning details in the commission’s draft report — and Israel’s troubling testimony — we cannot encourage the governor-elect to wait and let voters decide the sheriff’s fate in 2020.”
The problem, of course, was that we had the facts, but the Sun-Sentinel didn’t want to acknowledge them. It was probably hoping and praying something new would be found that would exonerate the sheriff, but we knew better. We knew there was no excuse.
And there isn’t.
Of course, this is a slap in the face of Israel and one that is warranted.
It also gives political cover to Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis to take action after being sworn into office next month. Rather than it being a case of a Republican removing a Democrat from elected office, it’ll be a governor removing a sheriff from office with the media’s support. That’s a big thing, and it seriously needs to happen.
I’m glad the Sun-Sentinel finally saw the light, even if it took it long enough.