Months after he was suspended by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the response to the Parkland school shooting, Scott Israel has filed paperwork to run for re-election as Broward County Sheriff.
Israel confirmed Monday that he filed to run again to reclaim the position. DeSantis named Gregory Tony the new Broward Sheriff after he suspended Israel three days after taking office in January.
"I want to get back to work, I want to get back to work with the thousands of men and women at the Broward Sheriff’s Office I worked with," Israel told NBC 6 on Monday.
DeSantis accused Israel of incompetence and neglect of duty and failing to properly train his department for an active shooter situation. Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.
Israel called his suspension "politically-motivated" and said his department's policy and procedures were "industry standard."
"This is one man, one governor, who made a political decision as a Republican to suspend a Democrat," Israel said. "This was a politically-motivated attack against a sitting sheriff, nothing more, nothing less."
The case against Israel is built largely on the failure of Deputy Scot Peterson, who remained outside the school instead of entering the building as a gunman fired about 140 bullets.
DeSantis doesn't have the final say in whether Israel will be permanently removed from office. Israel testified last month before a "special master" appointed by Republican Senate President Bill Galvano to gather facts and make a recommendation on whether Israel should be removed from office or reinstated. The full Senate will eventually vote on Israel's fate. Israel was first elected in 2012 and reelected in 2016. He already said he had planned to run for the position again next year regardless of the outcome of the Senate proceedings.
Tony released a statement on Monday saying he would also be running for the position.
"I am focused on improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office and correcting the long-neglected issues that have jeopardized our community’s safety in the past," Tony's statement said. "I continue to receive a tremendous outpouring of support every day and Broward residents are pleased to see a dedicated professional, who puts public safety over politics, working diligently to renew our deputies’ commitment to always protect the security and safety of our community. I intend to run for election to ensure that Broward is always first."
At last month's hearing, a lawyer for Israel pointed out that the document charging Peterson with nine criminal counts for failing to take action during the shooting states that Peterson was highly trained but failed to act on his training. The document was based on an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is overseen by DeSantis and the independently elected Cabinet.
Israel also defended his decision to change the language in the department's active shooter policy, saying officers are trained to assess a situation before entering a building. Israel had changed the wording of a deputy's responsibilities during an active shooter situation from "shall" enter a building to "may" enter a building.
"The purpose of the policy is to give the officer discretion not to go into a suicide mission. If your child was inside a school, you'd want an officer to go in, but you want him to go in alive to do what he was trained to do, and that's to eliminate the threat to the students," Israel said when he was questioned by his lawyer, Benedict Kuehne.