Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/96001569-132.html

 

The national profile of Broward Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Scott Israel may have risen sharply in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but the triumphs and missteps of the longtime South Florida cop have been well-documented over the past 10 years.

So have Israel’s strong connections to Parkland. The sheriff now lives in Davie but previously resided in Parkland with his wife, Susan. He is the father of triplets, Brett, Blake and Blair, who all attended Stoneman Douglas. Brett was once the starting quarterback for the school’s football team, even playing under slain assistant football coach Aaron Feis, as did his brothers. Blake, who now attends Palm Beach Atlantic University, was a midfielder in lacrosse at Stoneman. Israel, 61, also coached football at Stoneman Douglas and North Broward Preparatory Academy, and has been the head coach of the Coral Springs Chargers Tackle Football Team. In 2008, he won a Brian Piccolo Coach of the Year award.

Born in New York, Israel is the son of a New York homicide detective. He began his career as a patrol officer for the Fort Lauderdale police department in 1979, later working narcotics in the 1980s and 1990s, when crime was rampant. Israel has been the subject of 10 internal affairs complaints, mainly for excessive force, although he was cleared in all of them. He served a stint as a SWAT commander and was North Bay Village chief of police from 2004 to 2008, but left to run for sheriff in 2008 and 2012. Israel eventually won in 2012, and easily won re-election in 2016.

Israel has historically been vocal concerning gun violence, opposing open-carry legislation and one law that would allow concealed weapons on campuses. He began implementing body cameras for his deputies in 2016. This week, Israel announced that deputies guarding Broward County Schools will now carry rifle, including AR-15s.

On Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a police officer assigned to Stoneman Douglas resigned after failing to enter the Parkland school as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students and faculty. Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” The sheriff placed two other deputies under investigation for their handling of possible warnings about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

This isn’t the first time Israel’s agency has encountered trouble over its response to a mass shooting. Months after the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport shooting, a 2017 Sun-Sentinel investigation revealed that Israel’s Broward Sheriff’s Office failed to “seize control and set up an effective command system” at the airport. BSO “erred from the very beginning in controlling the shooting scene in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, where five people died and six others were wounded.” The reason, cited in a 99-page draft report by the agency itself, mentioned the sheriff’s office’s aging radio system, which garbled communications among officers, forcing police to improvise with “hand signals, runners and cellphones.”

Israel has also been scrutinized for his relationship with political operative Roger Stone. A Fort Lauderdale resident who built his career on smearing political enemies, Stone had a hand in the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, John McCain and Donald Trump. While backing then sheriff Al Lamberti in 2011, Stone told the Sun-Sentinel that “Scott Israel is an unqualified punk, a racist and a thief.”

One year later, Stone switched sides, helping Israel defeat Lamberti in the 2012 sheriff’s race. Since then, Israel “added to BSO’s payroll Stone’s book-writing partner, Stone’s book publicist and Stone’s long-time executive assistant,” and even had “Stone’s stepson transferred to detective.”

Citing mud slinging between Israel and Lamberti during the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel’s Editorial Board endorsed no one in that year’s primary for Broward County Sheriff. The Editorial Board backed Israel for his 2016 re-election as sheriff, writing that burglaries and violent crimes in BSO-patrolled areas were “way down” in the sheriff’s first term.

As Israel significantly trailed Lamberti in the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a late infusion of attack-ad cash from former Aerosmith guitarist Richie Supa, of Plantation, and Massachusetts construction magnate Robert Pereira helped tip the election in Israel’s favor. According to the same story, Pereira alone gave $245,000 to groups supporting Israel.

Israel also came under scrutiny in 2015 after a Broward grand jury indicted Deputy Peter Peraza in the 2013 slaying of Jermaine McBean, who was shot dead by the office in his apartment complex for toting an air rifle in public. Peraza became the first cop charged in an on-duty shooting in Broward since 1980, and public trust waned in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, prompting Israel to tell the Sun-Sentinel, “It’s a tough time to be a cop.”

After much speculation over the sheriff’s religious affiliations, Israel told the Sun-Sentinel in 2016 that he is Jewish and “attends the Parkland Chabad from time to time.” Israel leaned heavily on his faith during the 2016 campaign, saying this in one campaign ad flier: “My late father Sonny Israel fought in the Korean War and became a police officer because he believed in the call from the Talmud.” This came after multiple public speeches from Israel laced with Scriptural references, comments about “church pews” and his reluctance to discuss his spiritual beliefs.

Phillip Valys, February 24, 2018, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?”, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-school-shooting-who-is-broward-sheriff-scott-israel-20180223-story.html
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Broward Co. Sheriff Israel: ‘Not My Responsibility’ That His Employee Failed to Confront Parkland Shooter

“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.”

https://i2.wp.com/3o15h033zmpwracwx2i00rqx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/fl-florida-school-shooting-who-is-broward-sheriff-scott-israel-20180223.jpg

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:

National Disgrace “Officer” Scot Peterson Hid like a Little Bitch while Psycho Nikolas Cruz Dropped Bodies

“Officer” Scot Peterson, the armed School Resource Officer who had 1 simple job to do at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The only armed sheriff’s deputy at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, the Broward County sheriff said on Thursday. The sheriff also acknowledged that his office received 23 calls related to the suspect going back a decade, including one last year that said he was collecting knives and guns, but may not have adequately followed up.

The deputy, Scot Peterson, resigned on Thursday after being suspended without pay after Sheriff Scott Israel reviewed surveillance video.

“He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said in a news conference. He said the video showed Deputy Peterson doing “nothing.”

“There are no words,” said Sheriff Israel, who described himself as “devastated, sick to my stomach.”

Two other deputies were placed on restricted duty on Thursday because they may have mishandled tips called in to the sheriff’s office over the past two years warning that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, appeared intent on becoming a school shooter, Sheriff Israel said.

The revelations added to a growing list of failures and missed signs by the authorities that might have helped prevent one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Mr. Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed last week, acknowledging that it had failed to investigate. The tip about Mr. Cruz appeared to be the second in four months, after another person told the bureau about an online comment apparently posted by Mr. Cruz that he wanted to become “a professional school shooter.”

The Florida Department of Children and Families, the state social services agency, looked into Mr. Cruz’s well-being in 2016 after he posted on social media that he was cutting himself, but investigators determined he was not at risk of harming himself or others. The Broward County Public Schools had disciplinary complaints on Mr. Cruz dating back to when he was in middle school, including a long history of fighting.

Sheriff Israel said he informed Deputy Peterson on Thursday that he was being suspended without pay and placed under internal investigation. At 12:37 p.m. on Thursday, sheriff’s office records show, Deputy Peterson, signed his retirement papers, which amounted to a resignation. He had been with the office for more than 32 years.

“The investigation will continue,” Sheriff Israel said.

The surveillance video, which was not released, showed Deputy Peterson remained outside the west side of the building for at least four minutes while the gunman was inside, according to Sheriff Israel. The shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lasted less than six minutes. The video was corroborated by witness statements, Sheriff Israel said.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that an officer from the Coral Springs Police Department who responded to the shooting had seen Deputy Peterson in a Stoneman Douglas High parking lot. The deputy “was seeking cover behind a concrete column leading to a stairwell,” Officer Tim Burton said.

In the chaos immediately after the shooting, there were other missteps. A 20-minute delay in school surveillance video confused Coral Springs police officers trying to find the gunman, said Chief Tony Pustizzi. By then, the suspect had already left the building.

Chief Pustizzi called it a communications failure. The video system allows for real-time playback

“At first the guys are hearing, ‘Oh, he’s on the second floor.’ Well, it’s not true, ‘cause we have people on the second floor and the people are saying, ‘Well, he’s not on the second floor,’” Chief Pustizzi said, adding that, if anything, the officers were “more expeditious” as they moved through the school under the belief the gunman was still there.

Coral Springs police have said they were the first to respond to the shooting. Sheriff Israel, who defended his office’s response on Wednesday and said his own deputies had not hung back outside the building, said on Thursday that the Coral Springs officers acted “heroically.”

Samantha Fuentes, an 18-year-old senior at Stoneman Douglas High who was shot in both legs, said she never saw Deputy Peterson during the “30 minutes” that passed before SWAT officers arrived at the first-floor classroom in which she and other students had been taking a class.

“He is not someone who has much of a presence” in the school, she said.

Sheriff Israel, flanked by two of his top aides, appeared emotional Thursday during the news conference in which he described Deputy Peterson’s conduct. His eyes appeared to glisten, and his speech was sometimes halting.

The two other deputies placed on restricted duty pending an internal investigation were identified by the sheriff’s office as Edward Eason and Guntis Treijs.

In November 2017, a caller told the authorities that Mr. Cruz had been stockpiling guns and knives. In a summary of the call, the sheriff’s office said the caller, located in Massachusetts, worried that Mr. Cruz “will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making.” A deputy contacted the person who called, but no report was filed. The caller was referred to the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach County, where the caller said Mr. Cruz lived.

In February 2016, the sheriff’s office received what it described as “thirdhand information” that Mr. Cruz “planned to shoot up the school” and had posted a picture on Instagram of a “juvenile with guns.” A deputy determined that Mr. Cruz had knives and a BB gun and forwarded the information to the school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas High. That was Deputy Peterson.

Some of the other calls reveal further details about Mr. Cruz’s troubled childhood. In November 2014, someone reported that a person fitting Mr. Cruz’s description shot a chicken with a possible BB gun. Mr. Cruz was found to own an airsoft rifle, which he admitted to using, but denied he shot chickens.

And in September 2016, a peer counselor at Stoneman Douglas High alerted the school resource officer — likely Deputy Peterson — that Mr. Cruz “possibly ingested gasoline” the week prior “in an attempt to commit suicide and is cutting himself.”

“Mental health counselor advised Cruz did not meet criteria for Baker Act,” the summary said, referring to the Florida law that allows the police to commit the mentally ill against their will.

Stoneman Douglas High initiated a “threat assessment” on Mr. Cruz after the counselor’s report. The Florida Department of Children of Families looked into whether Mr. Cruz was at risk of harming himself or others and concluded he was not because he was living with his mother, attending school and seeing a counselor.