TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel returned to the Florida Senate on Wednesday morning for a hearing on getting his job back.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel in January claiming the Sheriff showed incompetence and neglect of duty when responding to the Parkland shooting.
Israel began his testimony on Tuesday where he stated, “I’ve never been called incompetent, and I have never been called negligent.”
On day two of the hearing, Israel was asked questions by his attorneys regarding Scot Peterson’s actions during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.
“If they think I could provide any woman or man on this earth with courage and the desire to go inside when their conscious is telling them ‘I’m not going in there’… there’s no sheriff, there’s no police leader, there’s no football coach or there’s no general that’s going to get someone to go in when the human element takes over and they say to themselves, ‘I’m not going in,'” said Israel. “Deputy Peterson didn’t go in, and it had nothing to do with training, and it had nothing to do with policies. Deputy Peterson didn’t go in because he was afraid.”
When asked if he had any reason to believe Peterson would not immediately or promptly go into the building on the day of the massacre, Israel responded, “Had I had that knowledge I would’ve removed him as a deputy.”
DeSantis’ team argued that the two mass shootings in Broward County showed the former sheriff was neglectful of duty and incompetent.
“Our training told our deputies, ‘You will go in as soon as you possibly can,'” Israel added. “We were well within the industry standard of agencies of our size.”
The Office of DeSantis Director of Communications, Helen Aguirre Ferre, released the following statement on Tuesday night:
“As Governor DeSantis’ counsel said in his opening statement (Tuesday), ‘The events and blatant failures giving rise to Governor Ron DeSantis suspending Scott Israel are so obvious that it is a shame Scott Israel is fighting.”
When asked if he agreed that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission did not have a vendetta against him, Israel responded, “Well, there were some members of the commission that … I — I disagree with your statement.”
The attorney then responded, “But the commission, as a whole, was not…”
“I disagree with your statement,” Israel interjected.
When asked about calls to BSO before the Parkland shooting, Israel said, “It sounds like you’re just admonishing me rather than asking me a question.”
The hearing is being held before former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette and before the full Senate decides Israel’s fate.
“All I can do is hope and pray that the senators listen to the evidence, seek out the truth and treat me they would want a family member of theirs or them to be treated if they were in this position,” Israel said after the hearing. “I just hope and pray that the state didn’t prove their case. There’s nothing incompetent or negligent about me. That’s not who I am. That’s not how I worked. That’s not how I performed, and I hope the senators realize that and vote that way.”
DeSantis’ lawyers left the hearing without comment and did not call any witnesses.
Goodlette will review the evidence and make a recommendation to the Florida Senate, and they will make a decision on Israel’s job in the fall.
Despite the outcome of the vote, Israel said he will run for Broward Sheriff again.
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