New Florida Governor Suspends Sheriff Over Parkland School Massacre

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Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who faced criticism over his department's response to the deadly Parkland, Florida, school shooting previous year, was officially suspended by new Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday.

Israel said DeSantis vowed to remove him as sheriff when he was campaigning for governor. Tony is the first black sheriff of Broward County.

Minutes after DeSantis' announcement, Israel said he would fight the suspension.

"The neglect of duty and incompetence that was connected to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been well documented, and I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel's political grave", DeSantis said.

"The massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff's department", DeSantis said during a news conference outside the Broward Sheriff's Office headquarters in Fort Lauderdale on Friday.

Moments later, family members of those who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took center stage.

Israel had created the department's active-shooter policy which obviously let the community down.

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Israel countered that other mass shootings did not result in the suspension of top law enforcement officials, including the bloodbath in 2016 in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub.

But he also pointed out no one was removed from office in the wake of other mass shootings in Florida.

Some parents of Stoneman Douglas victims and conservative state lawmakers began pushing for Israel's ouster shortly after the shooting when it was revealed that the Broward deputy assigned to guard the school, Scot Peterson, had not gone into the building to confront the shooter and his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, but took cover outside.

"We put in the executive over that as climate changes, as our environment changes, as water rises in places like South Florida and there's increased flooding, we want to make sure that we're taking the steps that we can to combat that", he said. According to the panel, that created confusion and led to inaction by eight deputies responding to the high school shooter.

According to state law, Florida governors can suspend sheriffs for "malfeasance" and "neglect of duty". Rick Scott, refused to suspend Israel, saying he wanted to wait until investigations into the February 14 shooting that left 17 dead were complete before deciding. "Scott Israel misused his authority and abused his public trust by politicizing the nation's largest fully accredited Sheriff's Office for his own political ambitions".

In an interview before DeSantis's decision, Israel's lawyer Stuart Kaplan said the sheriff plans to "respect the process" and may contest it. Tony, a Democrat like Israel, will fill the remainder of Israel's term, unless the ousted sheriff is successful in fighting his suspension.

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