Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel should resign immediately. He may think he’s shown “amazing leadership” but the American people know better.
The Sheriff’s department along with the FBI dropped the ball. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered an investigation into how the Broward County Sheriff's Department handled the deadly school shooting on Valentine’s Day. This came after Israel said the armed school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Deputy Scot Peterson, never went into the school to engage the shooter.
“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position, and he never went in," Israel said.
Yet, after the deadly Columbine shooting, it is police protocol for whomever the first responding officer is to enter the school.
Officers are trained to deal with active shooters. Moreover, the Broward County officers were not defenseless. They were armed. Only two things could have happened to Peterson: Either he froze when the massacre began or he was told to stand down until a higher ranking officer arrived on the scene. I suspect it was reason number two.
It wasn’t just Peterson who didn’t enter the school. When Coral Springs officers arrived, they saw three Broward deputies behind their vehicles with their firearms drawn. While these officers—also known as the “Broward Cowards”—twiddled their thumbs outside, 17 innocent students and teachers were gunned down by a maniac.
One student survivor (and camera hog), David Hogg, came out over the weekend to defend Peterson’s inaction on MSNBC.
“Who wants to go down the barrel of an AR-15, even with a Glock? And I know that's what these police officers are supposed to do, but they're people too," Hogg said.
Actually genius, it’s his job. Police take an oath to protect the public. Police have weapons in their cruisers. They are armed with AR-15’s as well as shotguns. Officers have a special bullet proof vest that can stop an AR-15 round and carry First Aid bags that have tourniquets in it.
Israel says he will not step down. He should. As many as 39 calls were made to the police regarding the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. The Sheriff’s department, however, did nothing.
In February of 2016, officers received a call from a neighbor's son saying Cruz planned to "shoot up" a school while posting pictures of guns on Instagram. According to police records, in November of 2017, a caller tipped off the police saying Cruz was “a school shooter in the making.” Yet the Sheriff’s department ignored the clear warning signs. The only thing Cruz didn’t do was stamp “mass murderer” on his forehead.
When Israel was asked about the red flags and missed opportunities by CNN’s Jake Tapper, he responded by saying, "I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I've given amazing leadership to this agency.” No, he didn’t. Being negligent and incompetent isn’t “amazing leadership.” It is dereliction of duty.
What was “amazing” was Israel’s performance at CNN’s Town Hall event. He attacked NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, calling her out for not standing up for the survivors of the Florida shooting.
“I understand you’re standing up for the NRA and I understand that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Israel said. “But you just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You are not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’”
Israel didn’t sound like a law enforcement officer. Rather, he sounded more like a talking head for the Democratic Party. Perhaps when his badge is taken away he’ll run for office.
The shocking part is that Israel knew his deputy waited outside the school and didn’t go in before the CNN event. Yet, he had the audacity to sit on stage and scold Loesch and the NRA rather than take responsibility for his department’s egregious failures. He may think he’s a budding media superstar. But Israel is nothing more than a national disgrace.
Cruz should never have slipped through the cracks of the Sheriff’s department or the FBI. This isn’t the NRA’s fault and it also isn’t time for a gun control debate. The AR-15 shouldn’t have been in the hands of this madman to begin with. Cruz should have been reported to the National Crime Information Center. If he was reported to NICS, it would have popped up on his background check and he wouldn’t have been able to purchase a firearm.
Israel failed to protect our children. If he had any dignity, he would turn in his badge and resign.
-Brittany Jennings is the Executive Producer of The Kuhner Report on WRKO AM-680.
Follow her on Twitter @Brittany_J10