“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.”
Apart from Nikolas Cruz, charged with killed 17 people, the second villain of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, is shaping up as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
At CNN’s “town hall” last week, Israel attacked defenders of the Second Amendment and said he and law enforcement “need more power.” Since then, it’s come to light that his department’s armed “school resource officer,” who was on the scene, failed to engage the shooter. So did three other sheriff’s deputies. When charged with corruption during a 2016 re-election campaign, Israel compared himself to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula—and declared, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.”
Now there’s this stunning denial of responsibility, in which Israel explains to a local news reporter why he is refusing to resign: “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.”
Confidence in police is below its 2004 peak, even if it’s rebounded from a post-Ferguson low in 2014. There are many reasons for that, including a seemingly endless stream of cases in which police shoot unarmed suspects and face few if any legal consequences. Add to that now a high-profile cop categorically declaring that his ass is covered merely by giving the requisite training to his staff, rather than overseeing a properly functioning department.
The Parkland shooting is quickly moving from a story about the need for more restrictions on weapons and owners to one about how officials failed to execute their duties. Israel’s craven responses will only feed that narrative, which might at least have the salutary effect of raising public consciousness and holding police accountable.
Watch the clip here: