Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel — removed from office by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over his department's failures related to the Parkland high school mass murder — should get his job back, an independent arbitrator says.
What are the details?
Naples attorney Dudley Goodlette was appointed by the Florida Senate to review Israel's case and make a recommendation to the state's upper chamber.
In a report released Tuesday and obtained by the Miami Herald, Goodlette determined, "Sheriff Israel and the BSO are not blameless for the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas. That said, the evidence offered has not demonstrated that Sheriff Israel should be removed from office based on this incident."
Goodlette argued that Gov. DeSantis failed to make the case against Israel, writing, "While the governor has offered a plethora of criticism, he has not shown that Sheriff Israel's policies, procedures or training on active shooter situations were inconsistent with Florida law enforcement standards."
The arbitrator went on to write that what happened at the Parkland massacre in Feb. 2018 was the "culmination of individual failures," especially on the part of disgraced school resource officer and former Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson.
Florida's Republican-led Senate will now decide whether or not Israel should reinstated as Broward County Sheriff.
Gov. DeSantis issued a statement critical of Goodlette's report, saying, "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 judgment on Scott Israel. 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."
The parents of victims in the Parkland attack were dismayed by the arbitrator's findings. Fred Guttenberg — whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was murdered in the massacre that left 16 others dead — told The Herald, "I can't believe it. [Israel] failed before and after Feb. 14. Totally failed. I'm in utter shock." Guttenberg told the legislature, "Do the right thing and do not reinstate him."
Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa in the shooting told the Associated Press on Wednesday, "I feel like someone just punched me in the stomach."
Israel and his legal team are optimistic that the Florida Senate will vote in his favor, and reinstate him to his elected office. If not, however, the Democrat has vowed to run again for his old position. He told reporters Wednesday, "I just want to get back to work."