MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A group of families of Parkland victims stood outside the Broward Sheriff’s Office substation in Parkland Monday afternoon to send a clear and unequivocal message to Florida Senators — do not give former Sheriff Scott Israel his job back.
The parents of Alex Schachter, Alyssa Alhadeff, Nick Dworet, Meadow Pollack, Jaime Guttenberg and Joaquin Oliver said that Israel failed before the Parkland shooting, in terms of training and staffing the Parkland district, during the shooting, as gauged by the response of a handful of BSO deputies and after the shooting in terms of changes made at the agency.
Guttenberg said Scott Israel’s attempt to return to his former position as Broward County Sheriff is a slap in the face to the victim’s families.
“The former Sheriff of this county has made himself a victim of the Parkland shooting,” Guttenberg said. “No. The people who died are the victims. He wants his money back. And you know what, he doesn’t deserve it. He failed.”
Several of the families stood united Monday in their message that Florida Senators need to disregard a report by a special master that ruled that Israel should be reinstated. Governor Ron DeSantis removed Israel earlier this year, alleging neglect and incompetence on behalf of the sheriff for a lack of training and response from deputies. The special master, however, determined that Israel cannot be held accountable for each deputies’ actions and that the BSO active shooter training was in line with other law enforcement agencies.
The report said that despite some problems on behalf of BSO in the Parkland shooting “the evidence offered has not demonstrated that Sheriff Israel should be removed from office based on this incident.” The report also says “the record suggests that the Stoneman Douglas shooting was a culmination of individual failures.”
But the families of Parkland victims urged senators to look beyond the special master recommendation.
“Because of the leadership and the training that Scott Israel gave his deputies, they waited 11 minutes to go into the building,” Max Schachter said.
Lori Alhadeff said this is a matter of public safety and that Israel was aware of deficiencies prior to Parkland because of the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. However, she said Israel did not correct them.
“These facts present a clear pattern of neglect and incompetence which endanger all of the citizens of Broward County,” Alhadeff said.
Mitch Dworet said this should not be a political issue for state senators.
“I say to any politician, look to your conscience when making this very important decision not to party lines,” Dworet said.
Fred Guttenberg said that Israel’s decision not to staff Parkland with his best deputies came with a heavy price.
“He said nothing happens in Parkland,” Guttenberg said. “Well, he was wrong and for that, he should be permanently removed from office.”
Manuel Oliver believes this is a question of doing what’s right for Broward County.
“You want your job back?” Oliver said. “You know who wants their life back? Joaquin. And Alex. And Jaime. And Meadow. And it’s not gonna happen.”
Israel has maintained that he wants to get back to the job Broward voters elected him to do. CBS 4 News spoke with Israel’s attorney this afternoon. He said that Israel always wanted properly trained and diligent deputies in Parkland and anywhere BSO serves.
This decision for the Florida Senate on Israel’s future and the future of BSO will begin next Monday in Tallahassee. It’s expected that a number of Parkland families and other activists will attend.