What to Know
- Israel, who was elected in 2012 and reelected four years later, was suspended on January 11th by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A special master has recommended to the Florida Senate that former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel should be reinstated to the job, months after he was removed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in part due to the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Senate President Bill Galvano has announced a one-week special session starting October 21st to consider the recommendation from special master Dudley Goodlette, which was delivered on Wednesday.
"I cannot adopt the Governor's position that their personal failures, in and of themselves, create grounds to remove Sheriff Israel," Goodlette wrote in his report, adding that it is "impractical" to have him removed based on the conduct of a subordinate that was never authorized, sanctioned or ratified.
Goodlette said the department's active shooter policy was not ideal but said was not so deficient that it was evident of neglect of duty, adding that the record of the case showed a "culmination of individual failures," namely surrounding former school resource officer and deputy Scot Peterson.
Peterson, who had been charged in the case, was seen on camera running from the building where Nikolas Cruz opened fire.
Goodlette also cited a NBC 6 interview with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who led the MSD Public Safety Commission, in which Gualtieri said there was nothing in the commission's report that recommended firing Israel.
“The victims with families impacted by the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School deserve justice and accountability. I disagree with the analysis contained in the non-binding recommendation; the senators will render their own independent judgement on Scott Israel," DeSantis said in a statement Wednesday. "Floridians were appalled by Scott Israel’s repeated failures and expect their senators will provide the accountability that the Parkland families have sought for the past year and a half."
Israel, who was elected in 2012 and reelected four years later, was suspended on January 11th by DeSantis over the department’s response to the shooting that killed 17 people inside the school on February 14, 2018.
"The Rule of Law has prevailed," Israel said in a statement Wednesday. "I humbly ask the Florida Senate to approve my reinstatement, so I can continue to serve all Broward County as the people’s elected Sheriff."
Gregory Tony, who was named interim sheriff by DeSantis after the dismissal of Israel, also released a statement Wednesday.
"Today's decision by the special master has no bearing on our operations at the Broward Sheriff's Office, nor does it affect the high level of service that we provide to the residents and visitors of Broward County," Tony's statement read. "As Sheriff, I will continue to focus on renewing our community’s trust in BSO by correcting the long-ignored issues of the past and revamping the agency in terms of training and inclusion."