The largest sheriff’s office in Florida has lost its accreditation after accusations that it responded poorly to mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018 and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017, according to the Miami Herald.
A state panel voted unanimously to revoke the office’s accreditation, citing incompetence in law enforcement’s response to the attacks.
From the Herald:
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. Then-Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, a Democrat, defended his agency but was suspended from office by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. [..]
A draft report by BSO officials found that [during the Fort Lauderdale incident] “the absence of a clearly defined [incident command] created unnecessary entanglements and unclear responsibilities.” (Much like he did after Stoneman Douglas, Israel defended BSO’s performance at the airport, telling the South Florida Sun Sentinel that “everything was done excellently.”)
The loss of accreditation is mostly symbolic, and won’t impact day to day functioning of the office. But it shows that the state is taking the failures of the department seriously.
An assessment team from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation has reviewed BSO twice since the Parkland shooting in 2018. Initially, the team found that the office was in compliance with state standards. They recommended that BSO be “favorably reviewed” by the CFA panel.
The panel clearly disagreed with this assessment.
“During the rating period of the time we’re talking in question here, there were substantial periods where they were not in compliance with how they performed in the field,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in at the panel’s meeting, according to a recording the Herald. “As a result we saw the catastrophic loss of life and injuries and what transpired because of lack of following procedures and things in place.”
“What happened this past year, the best practices were not exhibited on the day of that tragedy. There were multiple policy failures, training failures, leadership failures, equipment failures,” another commission member said on the recording.
In January, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Gregory Tony as the new sheriff of BSO. In a statement, Tony said he was disappointed in the results from the panel:
“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.”
Some who lost family members in the shootings said they approved of the decision to revoke accreditation, including Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter at Parkland.
“Sheriff Tony has a massive job ahead to restore BSO to its proper mission serving the residents of Broward County,” Petty told the Herald.
Tony, the new sheriff, made the odd decision to not attend the meeting of the state board last week. Israel told the Herald that the agency was upset by his decision to not attend.
“I only know what’s been told to me, and I was told the interim sheriff was asked to come and speak to the board in Tallahassee. I was told if he would have come and spoken, they would have kept the accreditation,” Israel told the Herald. “I was told it was because he didn’t show up and the group felt it wasn’t important to him and that’s why they did that.”
Israel has filed paperwork to run for sheriff again in 2020.
Read the rest of the story over at the Herald.