Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has issued a response to an open letter from Rep. Bill Hager to Governor Rick Scott. On Saturday, Hager called on Governor Scott to remove Israel from his post for “gross incompetence” in his handling of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre.
In his letter, Sheriff Israel states a “quick response was important because Mr. Hager’s reckless letter was riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.”
Israel states Hager’s claim that the Stoneman Douglas School Resource Officer and three BSO deputies were on campus but taking cover during the shooting is false. Israel states, “Only one law enforcement officer was ever on campus–at any time–during the attack: Scott Peterson.” Deputy Peterson resigned on Thursday.
Israel takes issue with Hager’s claim that BSO received 23 calls to from the home of Nikolas Cruz as well as 39 visits from BSO deputies. Israel states this claim is false. He states 18 of the 23 calls from the Cruz home dealt with Nikolas Cruz. The rest of the calls were made regarding his brother Zachary Cruz. “Of the 18, nearly all but two involved routine call from the mother relating to parenting issues (her sons were fighting; her son was banging pool equipment against the house, etc.),” Israel said. “BSO released the entire list of specifics of each call for service, and none were arrestable offences.”
Israel stated, “Mr. Hager’s claim of ’39 visits by’ BSO deputies is simply fiction.”
Finally, Sheriff Israel says Hager’s claim this is not the first time BSO has been under review is false. “It is patently obvious that Mr. Hager has zero comprehension of law enforcement,” Israel wrote. “After any major critical incident, all law enforcement agencies prepare self-assessments (often styled as After-Action Report, Lessons Learned Report, etc.).”
Israel said he is, “very proud of the incredible work that so many from BSO and other agencies (including CSPD, FDLE, Sunrise, FBI, ATF and others) performed on February 14.”
He said, “I am equaled appalled that Rep. Hager felt a need to engage in disingenuous political grandstanding, perhaps in the hope he will garner some headlines, at the expense of the truth.”
Sheriff Israel urged Hager to “publicly apologize for helping to spreading this false gossip and misinformation.”