The parents of some of the victims of the Parkland, FL, shooting are outraged after a special investigator recommended on Wednesday that Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff at the time of the shooting, be reinstated.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dudley Goodlette, a lawyer and former state legislator appointed to investigate Israel’s suspension for the Florida Senate, Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t prove his allegations that Israel showed a “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” during mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and an earlier attack at the Fort Lauderdale airport that left five people dead.
DeSantis ran his 2018 campaign on the promise that he’d remove the sheriff. Three days after taking office in January, DeSantis suspended Israel.
However, Goodlette contradicted DeSantis in his report, concluding that while Israel’s operation was flawed, he shouldn’t have been expected to have 100 percent control over his deputies’ actions.
Parents of Parkland victims responded swiftly to the recommendation. Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland victim Jaime, who was 14, told the Sun-Sentinel he was “horrified” to hear that Israel was recommended for reinstatement.
“He failed before that day, he failed during that day, and he clearly failed after that day,” Guttenberg said. “The idea he would even have a chance of stepping back into that seat is mind-boggling, and I hope it doesn’t happen.”
“I feel like someone just punched me in the stomach,” Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed in the Parkland shooting, told the Washington Post.
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting, also strongly condemned the recommendation on Twitter, saying the sheriff “let kids get murdered.”
In his report, Goodlette found the sheriff office’s response to the massacre in Parkland was “a culmination of individual failures” but that the agency’s active shooter policy was standard. Goodlette also said he didn’t think DeSantis’ decision was an overreach or that it was political. From the Sun-Sentinel:
Goodlette found that the agency’s much-criticized active shooter policy was similar to those of other Florida law enforcement agencies. At the time of the Parkland shooting, BSO’s policy stated that deputies “may” rather than “shall” engage the gunman.
The governor failed to show that BSO’s active shooter training was outside the norm, Goodlette wrote. BSO deputies were required to undergo active-shooter training twice every three years.
Israel also shouldn’t be ousted just because former Deputy Scot Peterson failed to engage the Parkland school shooter, Goodlette wrote.
Outside “stationing a deputy to supervise every passenger,” the airport shooting wasn’t preventable, Goodlette wrote.
While DeSantis suspended Israel, it’s up to the Florida Senate to have the final say. The lawmakers are scheduled for a special session during the week of October 21, during which they’ll decide whether to reinstate or remove Israel from the sheriff’s post permanently. However, regardless of whether he’s reinstated, Israel told the Floridapaper he’s running for sheriff again for 2020.