Article Courtesy of The
By Anthony Man
Published October 24, 2019
A Florida Senate committee decided Monday that
suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel shouldn’t get his job back. The
final vote is Wednesday.
Family members and
friends of people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School massacre have become powerful national voices on
gun violence and school safety, and outspoken at home about
what they see as the imperative of making sure Scott Israel
doesn’t return as Broward sheriff.
But even as they won a pivotal vote against Israel on Monday
night, they were to unable sway four state senators from
State Sens. Lauren Book, Oscar Braynon II, Gary Farmer and
Perry Thurston all voted to reinstate Israel as sheriff.
The four senators, all Democrats, voted with the rest of
their party to return him to office. The Republican majority
on the Rules Committee voted to make Israel’s suspension
permanent, foreshadowing the likely outcome Wednesday when
the full Senate votes.
Book’s was one of the most closely watched votes. Her
district includes Coral Springs, home to many people
directly affected by the 2018 massacre at the Parkland
school, and she is a member of the state commission that has
been studying what went wrong and how to fix it.
Before casting her
pro-Israel vote, Book said it was a difficult decision.
“It’s not lost on me that these families want accountability
and consequences,” she said, as family members who had just
called for Israel’s removal watched.
State Sen. Perry Thurston was one of the Broward
Democrats who voted to reinstate suspended Sheriff Scott Israel.
He's posing questions about Israel during a Senate Rules Committee
meeting in Tallahassee on Monday. The committee recommended
permanently suspending Israel in advance of a full Senate vote on
Book said Tuesday the 10 hours of legal arguments and public testimony
at the Rules Committee was a “rough day, obviously. A lot of testimony,
a lot of emotion.”
She said she’s been a supporter of Parkland-area families, but also has
different perspectives from elsewhere in Broward.
“I’ve always told them I would sit with an open mind and listen and
understand. I’ve been an advocate of theirs and continue and will
continue to be an advocate for them, and I know that they’re not
particularly pleased," she said. "But you also heard from a lot of
people in Broward County. You have to listen and balance all of those
things and all of those parts.”
Book’s rationale, unlike other senators, was that she was especially
interested in accountability for Scot Peterson, the deputy assigned to
the high school, whose failure to do anything to stop the shooting had
led to widespread condemnation of his cowardice.
Removal of Israel means he would be deemed responsible for what happened
at the school, Book reasoned, making it harder to make charges stick
against Peterson, who faces several criminal charges related to his
failure to act.
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed at the school, said
that reasoning made no sense to him.
“She’s just a Democrat and she’s voting partisan. She put her party
ahead of the safety of the community. She’s despicable, disgraceful,
shameless — just like Israel. They’re cut from the same cloth,” said
Pollack, who is a Republican.
“She sat on the [Stoneman Douglas] commission. She saw the videos. She
watched the evidence. She knows how many failures there were. She is
privy to more evidence than any other senator here. For her to vote to
reinstate that guy, she is everything I said,” Pollack said.
During the Rules Committee marathon, Farmer and Thurston made it clear
they had problems with the way the case against Israel was proceeding.
State Sen. Perry Thurston was one of the Broward Democrats who voted to
reinstate suspended Sheriff Scott Israel. He's posing questions about
Israel during a Senate Rules Committee meeting in Tallahassee on Monday.
The committee recommended permanently suspending Israel in advance of a
full Senate vote on Wednesday.
Explaining their votes, they said it was important to consider all of
Broward, whose residents elected Israel as sheriff, rather than just the
voices that want him permanently removed.