Republican state lawmakers in Florida called on Sunday for the suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, accusing him of “incompetence and neglect of duty” in the months before the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 Republican colleagues urged Gov. Rick Scott (R) to suspend Israel, a Democrat who was reelected in 2016 and has said he would not resign over his agency’s handling of one of the country’s deadliest school shootings.
“Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies,” Corcoran wrote in a letter released Sunday. “As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died.”
The sheriff has faced intensifying questions about his office’s response to the massacre after the revelation that an armed deputy on the scene did not enter the school while the shooter was inside. That deputy, Scot Peterson, retired last week after being suspended.
Israel said Sunday that he should not be faulted for Peterson’s actions. “You don’t measure a person’s leadership by a deputy not going in,” he said.
State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) sent a letter to Gov. Scott on Saturday accusing Israel of “neglect and incompetence” and calling for his removal.
Israel said Sunday, “Of course I won’t resign,” adding that Hager’s letter was “shameful” and “politically motivated,” The Washington Post reports.