Sheriff Israel Passes the Buck

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Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has said in multiple interviews he does not take responsibility for the failures of his deputies before and during the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School.

Since the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, Israel's department has been rocked by revelations that one of his deputies, Scot Peterson, failed to enter the school as the massacre unfolded.

In addition, his office fielded multiple calls about the accused perpetrator being dangerous and even a potential school shooter prior to the shooting, yet none of those tips appear to have been followed up on. The questions over the department's actions have led to a Florida state investigation.

Israel, who called for stricter gun control laws and proclaimed himself to be an "honest sheriff" at last week's CNN town hall, has said he'll cooperate with an investigation but has also reacted defensively when confronted about these failings.

He told CNN's Jake Tapper he has displayed "amazing leadership" and told NBC News that no one in the county could keep the people there safer than him.

"Do you think that if the Broward County Sheriff's Office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?" Tapper asked.

"If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books," Israel said.

"I don't know what that means," Tapper said. "There's 17 dead people and a whole long list of things your department could have done differently."

In one local interview, Israel took umbrage at the idea he bore responsibility for his deputies not following up on tips about Cruz.

"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," Israel said.

Regarding Peterson, who retired after being threatened with termination, Israel said, "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."

"You don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going into—these deputies received the training they needed," he told Tapper.

In the same CNN interview, he said, "Deputies make mistakes, police officers make mistakes, we all make mistakes, but it's not the responsibility of the general or the president if you have a deserter."

Israel also dodged Tapper's question about when he knew about Peterson's dereliction of duty, saying it "wasn't my job" to immediately view the surveillance video. He acknowledged hearing about Peterson the same day he addressed the CNN town hall but said he didn't look at the video until a day later.

Republican lawmakers across Florida have called for Israel, a Democrat, to step aside or be removed from his position. Israel has resisted calls to step down, saying "of course I won't resign."

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