w/ @jkbjournalist and @MartinDVassolo
There’s a new sheriff in town.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday appointed Gregory Tony, a former Coral Springs police sergeant, as Broward’s top cop, replacing Scott Israel, the embattled sheriff who has been widely blamed for the chaotic response to the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
After weeks of speculation, DeSantis — surrounded by many of the parents of students who were slain — announced at a news conference at Broward’s public safety building in Fort Lauderdale that he was suspending Israel, a two-term sheriff and 30-year law enforcement veteran. He cited overwhelming failures of leadership that led to egregious breakdowns that may have contributed to the deaths of the 14 students and three staff members.
The gunman, Nikolas Cruz, now 20, was a former student who had made several threats of violence before the killings. At least two of the threats were reported to BSO, but were not adequately investigated, DeSantis said in his suspension order.
Under Florida’s constitution, the governor can suspend a sheriff for neglect of duty or incompetence, which is what DeSantis cited in his official order.
“I have no interest in dancing on Scott Israel’s political grave,” DeSantis said, “but suffice it to say the massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff’s department.”
Israel, at a subsequent news conference, vowed to fight being stripped of his elected office. His lawyer, Stuart Kaplan, said that while mistakes were made in responding to the massacre, they were not serious enough to warrant his suspension or removal from office.
Israel, clad in a blue suit and red tie, called his suspension a “massive power grab by the governor to subvert the will of Broward County voters,’’ and he accused critics of singling him out for his vocal support of gun control.
“I understand it’s easier to say ‘Suspend Sheriff Israel’ than it is to address the real problem — the problem around this nation of gun violence,’’ Israel said at his own news conference at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale.
But the parents of the students who were killed applauded the governor’s action.
Read the rest here.