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Florida Senate votes to remove Broward sheriff after Parkland shooting

By
Daniel Uria
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was officially removed from his position by a 25-15 Senate vote on Wednesday. File Pool Photo by Michael Laughlin/UPI
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was officially removed from his position by a 25-15 Senate vote on Wednesday. File Pool Photo by Michael Laughlin/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Florida's Senate voted Wednesday to remove Broward Sheriff Scott Israel over his office's response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 25-15, largely along party lines, approving Gov. Ron DeSantis' proposal to remove Israel from office.

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"I hope the outcome provides some measure of relief to the Parkland families that have been doggedly pursuing accountability," DeSantis said, regarding the families of the 17 students and faculty members killed in the shooting.

The Florida Senate hired an independent arbiter to hold a trial to review 10 claims the governor made against Israel, including that the sheriff was incompetent and neglected his duty.

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All five senators representing Broward voted to reinstate Israel, with Sen. Kevin Rader, whose district includes Parkland, citing the findings of the review.

"Before the release of these findings, I thought I knew what my vote would be. But after much thought and soul searching, I have concluded that I simply cannot support the governor's suspension in the absence of enough supporting evidence to meet the high bar that it requires," Rader said.

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Israel's removal fulfills a campaign promise by DeSantis, who suspended the sheriff shortly after taking office in January and appointed former Coral Springs police Sgt. Gregory Tony to replace him.

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A group of survivors and parents from Stoneman Douglas sued Israel and other school officials in July for failing to protect the students and faculty.

Retired school resource officer Scot Peterson never entered the school building after hearing confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz open fire. In December the sheriff's office said it would change language in its active shooter policy to say that officers "shall" attempt to enter the scene and intervene rather than "may."

Israel said he personally included the word "may" in the old policy to prevent deputies from entering situations that would result in certain death.

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