Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel refused again Thursday to resign even as a state commission concluded that his office’s active-shooter policy contributed to the carnage in Parkland, Florida.
In a draft report, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting Public Safety Commission said the policy gave deputies wiggle room by saying they “may” confront an active shooter, instead of they “shall.”
“The use of the word ‘may” in the BSO policy is ambiguous and does not unequivocally convey the expectation that deputies are expected to immediately enter an active assailant scene where gunfire is active and neutralize the threat,” said the draft report.
Sheriff Israel previously told the commission that he changed the wording to avoid having officers embark on a “suicide mission.”
“‘May’ gave them the out not to enter,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a commissioner, at Thursday’s meeting. “They decided to be cowards instead of heroes.”
In a statement, Sheriff Israel refused to step down, saying that he would use the report “as a basis to conduct our own thorough investigation, and we’ll take appropriate steps to make any necessary improvements.”
“I have done nothing that would warrant my resignation and have absolutely no intentions of resigning,” he said. “I am committed to BSO [Broward Sheriff’s Office] and the safety of Broward County. I will remain sheriff for so long as the voters of Broward County want to have me.”
The sheriff’s office has come under heated criticism for its response to the Feb. 14 shooting, which saw officers remain outside the school until the shooter had left the building. Seventeen students and teachers died in the massacre.
At Thursday’s wrap-up meeting in Tallahassee, Sheriff Judd described Sgt. Brian Miller, a supervisor who remained outside as shots were being fired to put on his vest, an “absolute, total failure,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
The 400-page preliminary report also recommended allowing schools to arm personnel without the approval of the county sheriff.
The commission, which began meeting in April, is scheduled to present its final report to the governor and state legislature Jan. 1.
• This story was based in part on wire-service reports.