TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was back in court Wednesday, testifying for the second day of an appeals hearing.
The questions revolved around Israel’s policies and procedures as sheriff, as well as his response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018 and the shooting at Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport in January 2017.
Governor Ron DeSantis removed Israel from his elected office back in January, saying his “incompetence” and “neglect of duty” were connected to the two major shootings.
Israel, in turn, filed a lawsuit against the suspension. A judge dismissed it back in April, saying the governor did, in fact, have the authority to remove him.
The state Senate appointed a special master, Dudley Goodlette, to hear the facts of the case and make recommendations on whether or not to reinstate Israel.
For several hours, Israel was questioned by both his own attorney, Benedict Kuehne, and Governor Ron DeSantis’ counsel, Nicholas Primrose.
Israel believes he should have his job back, and says the reason he was removed was political.
“To be suspended– to be called incompetent, and not even have the chance to explain what actually happened. I was there,” Israel says. He says the Governor should have wanted to sit down and meet with him to discuss what took place.
One of the topics of discussion was former school resource officer Scot Peterson, who declined to go into MSD while shots were being fired. Israel says, ultimately, Peterson’s inaction was not Israel’s responsibility.
“There’s no sheriff; There’s no police leader; There’s no football coach, and there’s no general that’s going to get them to go in there when the human element takes over, and they say ‘I’m not going in,’” says Israel.
Attorneys questioned Israel about the active shooter training and policies, which he defended. There has been much discussion over the language used in the Broward County active shooter policy, which stated the deputy “may” go inside. Now, it says the deputy “shall” go inside. Israel called the wording a “red herring.”
“The purpose of the policy is to give the officer discretion not to go into a suicide mission,” Israel explains. “If your child was inside the school, you would want the officer to go in, but you want him to go in alive to do what he was trained to do.”
Israel says his deputies received appropriate training.
“To mandate deputies go through active killer training once every three years with an agency of 1,800 deputies is well within industry standards,” he says.
The special master will make his recommendations to the senate on whether Israel should be reinstated or remain suspended. That decision will likely come in the fall.
The hearing Wednesday began at 9:00 in the morning and wrapped up around 4:30 in the afternoon.
Israel mentioned he would be interested in running for reelection.