Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced that he will fully cooperate with an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into how his deputies responded to the Parkland school shooting that left 17 people dead.
In an exclusive interview with NBC 6, Israel also said he will not step down as sheriff, despite a call by 73 Republican Florida lawmakers demanding that he be removed from office. The lawmakers made their demand in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott.
“Leaders are responsible for the agency, but leaders are not responsible for a person,” said Israel. “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”
In the interview, Israel chose not to focus on reports claiming that three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies, in addition to the school’s resource officer, did not go inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when shots rang out.
“We are preparing to take statements from Coral Springs police officers, who allegedly are going to make statements about our deputies or some deputies, two or three deputies not doing what they’re supposed to do. It will be investigated feverishly and thoroughly,” said Israel.
On Sunday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran shared a letter with 73 house Republican signatures, calling for Gov. Rick Scott to remove Israel from office.
Gov. Scott responded with a statement, which, in part, read, “I have asked for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to immediately investigate the law enforcement response and will continue to review this matter as more facts come out. There must be an independent investigation and that is why I asked the FDLE Commissioner to immediately start this process.”
“We will find the truth,” said Israel. “If the deputies did nothing wrong, then we move forward. If the deputies made mistakes, I’ll act accordingly and handle it appropriately as I did with former Deputy Peterson.”
The sheriff said he’s received thousands of supportive messages from the men and women who elected him. But there’s a growing number of people arguing that it’s inexcusable that Israel’s department missed warning signs about the teenage shooter. Twenty-three calls were made to BSO about the gunman. Two other officers, who previously responded to one of the calls related to Nikolas Cruz, have been placed on restrictive duty while the investigation is underway.
“I’m the sheriff. My name’s on the door. The people responsible are the ones who took the calls and didn’t follow up on it. As it was with the FBI, as it was with any person,” said Israel.
Israel said that BSO will fully cooperate with the FDLE, as they believe in full transparency and accountability. “This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings,” said Israel.