Broward County Sheriff's Office Just Suffered Another Huge Blow

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Posted: Jul 03, 2019 12:50 PM
Broward County Sheriff's Office Just Suffered Another Huge Blow

Source: Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has fallen even lower. They bungled the response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Its deputies were caught sleeping on the job near the school after the tragic shooting that left 17 people dead. Its deputies refused to enter the building where shooter Nikolas Cruz was committing his senseless act of violence. Ex-school resource officer Scot Peterson resigned and was later brought up on child neglect and perjury charges related to the shooting; he was the man who failed to confront Cruz. In all, several deputies were investigated, with two being fired for neglect. Then, they accidentally let a murder suspect go free. So, you can see why the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation revoked their certification. Oh, and they mishandled another shooting in 2017 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (via Miami Herald):

A state panel has voted unanimously to revoke the law enforcement accreditation of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the largest sheriff’s office in Florida.

The loss of accreditation — a voluntary certification sought by law enforcement agencies — won’t affect BSO’s operations in a major way. But it is a further blow to the agency’s prestige at a time when a new command staff, including a new sheriff, are dealing with a string of failures and questionable conduct by deputies.

The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) cited BSO’s mishandling of the Parkland school shooting last year and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting in 2017 as reasons for its decision in a 13-0 vote last week.

Both incidents were marked by chaotic and disorganized responses from the sheriff’s office. Seventeen people died at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, including some who were waiting for rescue as BSO deputies took cover, put on body armor and struggled to find the building where the massacre had taken place.

[…]

Accreditation allows agencies to standardize their practices and make sure they meet widely accepted guidelines. It can also help buttress agencies in defending themselves against lawsuits as it shows their procedures have been validated by outside experts, as well as lower their insurance rates. In Florida, there are more than 200 standards that an agency must meet to maintain accreditation.

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BSO and its new sheriff, Gregory Tony, appointed by DeSantis to replace Israel in January, did not respond to questions for this story. Tony on Monday issued the following statement: “It is disheartening for the hardworking members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office to lose our accreditation because of the previous administration’s mishandling of two devastating events in our community. Since recently taking command, I have worked on improving BSO and repairing the effects of bad leadership and negligence by focusing on training and community relations. I will continue working hard to ensure that all Broward residents feel safe and that our agency’s reputation and honor are restored.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended former Sheriff Scott Israel. That move was upheld by the state Supreme Court. Israel said he has impeccable leadership skills, and that nothing was his fault in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, even after news began to trickle that his department was a total nightmare. The man apparently has no shame either; he’s running again (via CBS News):

Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is campaigning for his old job after being removed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his officers' failure to protect Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students died in a mass shooting last year. DeSantis quickly suspended Israel after assuming the governorship this year and appointed former Coral Springs police Sgt. Gregory Tony to replace Israel.

CBS affiliate WPEC-TV reports that Israel filed his paperwork Monday morning to run for re-election as sheriff in the 2020 Democratic primary.

"I want to get back to working with the incredible men and women of the Broward County Sheriff's Office," Israel said. "I want to get back to my communities."

[…]

The former top cop has since been fighting his suspension before a Florida senate, claiming it was a politically motivated attack. "This was about politics, not Parkland," Israel said. 

The full state senate, however, could vote on Israel's fate in the fall, throwing a wrench into Israel's campaign.

What a mess.