Sheriff slams state rep's calls for his removal over handling of school shooting

WPLG-TV(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has slammed Florida state legislator Bill Hager for “disingenuous political grandstanding,” after he demanded that Israel resign over his “neglect of duty and incompetence” over the handling of the shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Hager wrote a letter Saturday to Gov. Rick Scott, in which he outlined why Israel should be removed from his post, citing examples of the alleged incompetence.

Supporters of Hager took to the streets of Coral Springs, which is near the high school, carrying signs that read, “Resign Sheriff Israel” and “Democrat Says Resign.”

But Israel responded quickly, writing his own letter to Scott, in which he slammed Hager’s “reckless” letter, writing that it “was riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.”

According to Hager, Scott has the power to remove Israel through a Florida statute.

Seventeen students and staff members were fatally shot by suspect Nickolas Cruz at the Parkland school on Feb. 14.

“Each day, new details emerge about potential interagency breakdowns and miscommunications,” Hager wrote to Scott. “We must utilize all of our resources to ensure that a horrific act such as this never happens again.”

Israel in his letter attempted to debunk Hager’s allegations. He took issue, for example, with Hager’s “false statement” that the school resource officer and three Broward sheriff deputies were “on campus at the time of the attack and chose to take cover themselves rather than stepping up to protect students.”

Israel’s response? “This statement is patently false,” Israel wrote to Scott. “Only one law enforcement officer was ever on the campus — at any time — during the attack.” Israel did say on Friday, though, that his department is investigating such reported claims.

Israel also took issue with Hager’s claim that “this will not be the first time a review of the Broward Sheriff’s Office will be done,” citing the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport last year.

“It is patently obvious that Mr. Hager has zero comprehension of law enforcement,” Israel wrote to Scott. “After any major critical incident, all law enforcement agencies prepare self-assessments.”

Speaking in general terms, Israel wrote to Scott, “And I am equally 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.”

Israel added, “I would urge Rep. Hager to publicly apologize for helping to spreading this false gossip and misinformation.”

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