Florida Supreme Court Upholds DeSantis’s Suspension of Broward County Sheriff

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Florida Governor Rick Scott walk up to the media to speak about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and former Florida Gov. Rick Scott / Getty

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.) had the authority to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for the failures of his department surrounding the Parkland high school shooting last year.

"Today’s Florida Supreme Court opinion leaves no doubt of my authority as Governor to suspend a government official for neglect of duty and incompetence," DeSantis said in a statement. "Scott Israel failed in his duties to protect the families and students of Broward County and the time for delay tactics is at an end."

DeSantis said he looked forward to the Florida State Senate "resuming the process of formal removal." DeSantis appointed retired Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony as interim sheriff after suspending Israel in January.

Florida's constitution allows for the governor to suspend a sheriff for incompetence or neglect of duty. Israel, a Democrat, claimed he was being unjustly targeted by the Republican governor for being in favor of gun control and said DeSantis's actions were subverting the will of Broward County voters, the Miami Herald reported.

In his initial suspension order, DeSantis cited the failure of Israel's office to respond to multiple reports of threats made by the shooter. Israel also came under fire at the time when news broke that one of his deputies, Scot Peterson, was on the campus when the killing began and didn't enter the building where the shooter had opened fire. Israel refused to resign and claimed he had provided "amazing leadership" to the department.

Before the inaction of his deputy came to light, Israel participated in CNN town hall a week after the massacre with a pro-gun-control tilt, where he clashed with National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch and called for stricter gun laws.

Seventeen people were killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, making it the deadliest high school shooting in the country's history.