Love or hate Sheriff Israel–there is more to be considered.
National Public Radio report: “Florida’s Senate has voted to remove Scott Israel from his position as Broward County sheriff following his department’s handling of the Parkland mass shooting last year.”
From the Sun Sentinel: “After hours of debate filled with gripping, emotional details about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre and soaring rhetoric about constitutional rights and the weighty responsibilities of elected officials, the Florida Senate voted Wednesday to permanently remove suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
Israel, whose leadership was seen as so flawed by the governor and family members of Parkland victims that it contributed to some of the 17 deaths and 17 injuries, has been out of office since Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him in January.” (My emphasis added)
Two observations from above.
First, you notice the belittling term: “soaring rhetoric about constitutional rights.” Wow, another one of those constitutional inconveniences swept aside with a scoff. Second, the sheriff’s leadership was deemed “flawed” by parents and the governor (later the senate). How much, exactly, do the governor or the parents know about running a huge sheriff’s department? The point I’m trying to make is how this process has managed to muddy the waters and blur the lines of constitutional accountability and separation of powers between a state and its counties.
So, what’s the problem?
It all sounds reasonable. Former Sheriff Israel’s department, under his leadership, failed to protect the children at the Stoneman Douglas school…failed MISERABLY! Pretty cut-and-dried, right? Not really. The selection of a sheriff, by the citizens of ANY county, is a critical bulwark against state and federal government overreach. In this nation, the county sheriff may stand square in the way of federal or state agencies if they believe the constitutional rights of their citizens are being encroached upon. We saw it here in Texas when our county law enforcement and local citizens backed down the Feds over land issues along the Red River. Fortunately, we have a solid conservative governor who supported us.
We’ve recently heard the responses from sheriff’s across the country when state legislators have passed unconstitutional laws threatening the Second Amendment rights of their county residents. We heard it all the way from New Jersey to Washington state: “Not in MY county!”
Remember what a thorn in the liberal’s side Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in Arizona? His “tough love” prison policies made recidivism rates in his county drop like a stone, but liberal organizations like the ACLU hated him, and sued him often. He was also a very outspoken critic of President Obama. Can you imagine the reaction if a liberal Governor of Arizona had tried to have him thrown out of office?
But…but…Sheriff Israel DESERVED it
Maybe (probably) he deserved to be replaced, but there are mechanisms for that which allow the VOTERS of Broward County to make that decision, not politicians at the state capitol. More time was wasted scoring political brownie points by running this up the state flagpole than would have been required to unseat the sheriff in a recall election…IF that is what the VOTERS wanted.
Now, if Sheriff Israel was an immediate threat or jailed for a serious crime, the state could intervene, and the undersheriff could take over until another election. Sheriff Israel was not accused, charged or convicted of a crime. Only the voters of Broward county should be allowed to remove or replace him.
In response to criticism from the family members of children killed and injured during the school shooting, Sheriff Israel was suspended by the Republican Governor in January for “Dereliction of duty.” In other words: He was a political inconvenience for those in higher office at a time when the national spotlight was on their state. As far as I can tell, there is no state guideline for county sheriff dereliction of duties.
There is more to this than meets the eye
Have you heard of other sheriffs being thrown out of office by state politicians for incompetence–what about all those municipal law enforcement department heads whose officers shoot unarmed people, or raid the wrong house, killing or injuring the inhabitants?
Why this guy–and why now? Let’s go back to my comment about the national movement where many county sheriffs are refusing to abide by some laws–our founding fathers would refer to that as justified nullification of an unconstitutional policy or statute.
Is this move by the Florida Governor and Senate just the camel’s nose in the tent? Which state will be next, and can you guess which sheriffs will be on their lists?
Where would it stop?
Every time a county sheriff (like the ones currently standing up for our Second Amendment) told the state or federal authorities to “stuff it,” or they caused state or national politicians political embarrassment, or derailed their liberal agenda, there could be a state or federal vote—and our protections would disappear immediately.
If you think about it, what Florida politicians did was a direct assault on the rights of the people of Broward County to select their own sheriff. Lt Gov Nunez applauded the Senate “…for voting for the people of Broward.”
Get it? The Senate voted FOR (on behalf of) the citizens of Broward County. From whence did they derive that authority? And how could THAT go wrong?