The Sun Sentinel ran an editorial this past Wednesday titled “What does Broward Sheriff Scott Israel not want us to see?”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was the man in charge when Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. that ended with seventeen dead and 17 more injured.
Sheriff Israel wasn’t new to the job, either. He was elected to the office in 2012. That means he was fully entrenched in the job and responsible for his department’s actions in the years leading up to Cruz going postal and for their response when he did.
Among other things, the Sun Sentinel has “requested copies of the 911 calls, police radio calls and incident reports from the 39 times BSO deputies were called to the home of Nikolas Cruz, who’s confessed to carrying out the rampage that killed 17 and injured 17.”
There’s no doubt that Israel’s office failed to identify the threat that Nikolas Cruz posed even after Cruz called authorities to report his delicate mental condition himself.
The question that remains unanswered is whether Israel’s response team acted appropriately.
The Sun Sentinel recalls that the sheriff “suggests the school’s resource officer acted cowardly during the mass shooting and two deputies mishandled earlier warnings. Aside from that, though, the sheriff wants you to take his word that he and his deputies did amazing work before, during and after the shooting.”
We have taken Sheriff Israel to task in a number of previous columns because his story that “his deputies did amazing work before, during and after the shooting” doesn’t seem to square with either the evidencethat we do have, or the deputies who responded from other jurisdictions.
Because Sheriff Israel’s claim that “his deputies did amazing work before, during and after the shooting” doesn’t seem to square with what we know, the Sun Sentinel is calling for Sheriff Israel to release videos captured by the school’s CCTV system calling the sheriff to task for his refusal to do so, writing:
“But that’s not how it works. To hold government accountable, we need a better picture of what happened. And that means we need to see the evidence ourselves, starting with the security video taken outside the school.”
“But the video is an important first step in answering urgent questions, including: What went right and wrong outside the school? Where was School Resource Officer Scot Peterson during the shooting? How long did it take BSO deputies to arrive? Did they enter the building or not? Were Coral Springs officers first to go in? Were emergency medical technicians restrained from entering? How long before rescue trucks were able to race victims to hospitals?
“The answers are needed now because there’s a lot of back and forth over who did what. Peterson says the sheriff is wrong about what he saw on the video and Coral Springs police say several BSO deputies didn’t enter the school, either.
“Meanwhile, we’re in the middle of a major public debate about how to harden schools, whether to change gun laws, how to handle potentially dangerous gun owners and most importantly, whether our children are safe in school.
“And laws are being formed without the benefit of knowing what exactly happened.”
Sheriffs used to rely on an armed citizenry to form posses to help enforce the law. Sheriff Israel is asking us to surrender that role in protecting our families and communities and to trust him to do it for us.
Based on what, exactly?