Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order Friday to suspend Broward Sheriff Scott Israel for his department's handling of the mass school shooting on Valentine's Day last year.
The announcement came a few hours after a plane carrying DeSantis to South Florida made an emergency landing in St. Petersburg due to mechanical issues. Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief of Staff Shane Strum, and three members of the executive staff were on board the plane. The News Service of Florida reported DeSantis is flying around the state in an upgraded King Air seized by law enforcement officers during a drug bust.
The emergency landing caused DeSantis to be more than an hour behind schedule for his news conference in Broward County on holding government officials accountable.
Israel was suspended because of his office's response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February. He is being replaced by Gregory Tony of Boca Raton.
“The people of Broward County deserve accountable, competent leaders who can safeguard our communities,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Gregory Tony will be a champion for Broward County who will work tirelessly to safeguard our schools and our streets while ensuring accountability within the Sheriff’s office.”
Tony is a former Coral Springs Police sergeant and will serve as Broward's first African American sheriff.
This is an enormous honor and privilege to be appointed Sheriff of Broward County,” Tony said. “It is my intention to embark on this enormous task to restore the confidence of families and residents of Broward County toward the Broward Sherriff’s Office, which also requires that I fix the problems that exist. I thank Governor Ron DeSantis for this honor and I commit to faithfully fulfilling my duties to this office.”
Israel gave his own press conference in reaction to DeSantis at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church at 400 NW 9th Ave.
Attorney General Ashley Moody issued this statement on Israel's suspension:
“There is ample support in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Report to remove Sheriff Scott Israel. This includes:
A lack of training in responding to active shooter situations, even after the Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting;
A lack of attention to resources, which caused the BSO radio system to fail at a critical point;
A failure to quickly establish a command post and to take control of coordinating the tactical response;
A lack of coordination with other responding agencies; and
The failure of multiple officers who encountered the assailant before this incident, but failed to follow up on his clear mental health issues and violent tendencies.
“It is time for new leadership to implement the Commission’s recommendations and I fully support Governor DeSantis’s decision to suspend Sheriff Israel.”