TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A suspended Florida sheriff said he’ll run for office again, regardless of the outcome of his appeal.
Scott Israel said that Wednesday following two days of fighting to overturn the suspension in a special hearing for the Broward County official.
“I certainly will be working very hard to reclaim my job and finish out my term,” said Israel, who was elected to the post in 2016. “I will be running for sheriff of Broward County again, one way or the other.”
Governor Ron DeSantis ousted Israel over the handling of mass shootings in Parkland and the Fort Lauderdale airport.
The governor’s attorneys allege the sheriff acted negligently and with incompetence. Attorney Nick Primrose said in opening statements, Tuesday, the “events giving rise to Governor Ron DeSantis suspending Scott Israel are so obvious— it’s a shame Scott Israel is even fighting.”
During Israel’s more than six hours of testimony, Wednesday, Primrose tried picking apart the sheriff’s training standards for deputies, suggesting they were too infrequent. Also, the attorney questioned whether the failure of two Broward County deputies to file reports on interactions with the Parkland gunman, prior to the massacre, could have prevented the shooting.
“You do not believe, at all, that you neglected your duty or were incompetent,” Primrose asked the sheriff in cross examination.
“The answer to that question,” Israel said, “is not only do I not believe it, I have not met one person— other than governor DeSantis, who does believe it.”
Israel’s lawyers felt the suspension was a political ploy by Governor DeSantis to grab midterm votes. They spent hours questioning Israel and three other witnesses, meticulously pointing out the amount of training the sheriff required for his deputies, suggesting Israel exceeded state standards.
“There is no basis for the governor’s decision,” said Ben Kuehne, who was representing the sheriff. “We expect the special master will identify that as well.”
The next steps could take months. The special master, who oversaw the hearing, will write a report with his recommendation to the Florida Senate. Lawmakers there will have final say in whether to uphold Israel’s suspension.