- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” post-shootings not only that he wouldn’t resign — but that “of course” he wouldn’t resign.

Lawmakers don’t think he should, either. They think he should be fired. And honestly, he’s not making the best case for himself in recent media appearances.

Israel’s coming off as a someone who’s hunkering into self-protection mode, putting his own interests above those of others and trying at all costs to salvage his reputation and that of his department’s. It’s not a pretty picture.

Here’s the latest: Speaker Richard Corcoran just sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott urging him to suspend Israel; State Rep. Bill Hager just called on Scott to fire Israel for “neglect of duty and incompetence,” according to the Palm Beach Post. Meanwhile, shooting survivors and their families aren’t exactly enamored with the sheriff, either.

“He failed to act on so many different levels and him himself — he is responsible for this massive failure,” Kyle Kashuv, one of the teenage shooting survivors, told Fox News. “It could have been easily stopped both by the FBI and the sheriff’s department had they acted.”

This isn’t just about the fact that resigned Deputy Scot Peterson wasn’t the only law enforcement official who stood and did nothing while Nikolas Cruz fired off shots inside the school, killing 17 students and staffers.

This is about the allegations — disputed by Israel but subjected to investigation — that more than one armed and trained deputy stood idly by as the killer did his thing.

This is about the fact that the sheriff’s office had received nearly two dozen calls and complaints about Cruz, resulting in more than three dozen visits to his home, according to Hager.

“The sheriff was fully aware of the threat this individual presented to his community and chose to ignore it,” Hager stated in a letter to the governor.

Israel is fighting back, and has called Hager’s remarks “feckless” and “falsehoods.”

But he’s not exactly making a grand case for himself.

On CNN, Israel told host Jake Tapper he was “just demoralized with the performance of former Deputy [Scot] Peterson,” who resigned after he admittedly hung outside the building, hiding, while shots rang forth at the students.

Well and good; he should be.

But then Tapper asked this — “Do you think that if the Broward sheriff’s office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?” — and Israel said this, as Townhall noted: “Yeah, listen, if ifs and butts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.”

What?

Look, 17 students and staffers are dead. This is not the time to go glib.

Weed through all the statements, defenses, excuses and explanations and what’s left, in the end, is that Israel is the guy at the helm in a department with at least one deputy who did nothing as kids were getting killed. If the buck stops at the top, Israel’s in a position of vulnerability right now — and his tone, his statements, his attitude and defenses in the media ought to reflect that reality, a bit more humbly.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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