When faced with a difficult situation some rise to the challenge. When in a position of leadership, some give credit to their subordinates when they meet a challenge successfully or personally take blame if they fail. Then there is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel who does none of those things.
“Brave” Sheriff Israel
Israel went on national television and blamed the NRA for the shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was an active participant in CNN’s Two Minutes of Hate. He did so knowing that law enforcement responded to anywhere from 23-45 calls for visits to the shooter’s home. These calls included cases of self-reporting, threatening his brother, and throwing his mother against a wall.
He told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that he heard reports of one of his deputies failing to go into the school and engage the shooter. Yet, he did not mention it at CNN’s town hall because, “we need to get it right, we need to get it accurate.” He did not wait to get it “right” or “accurate” when he scolded Dana Loesch on national television. To do otherwise would have meant that as leader of the BSO (Broward Sheriff Office), he would have to take a modicum of responsibility. Yes, somehow, it was her fault that he is partly responsible for one of the biggest law enforcement debacles in modern-American history.
After reports of the BSO Deputy failing to enter the school and engage the shooter, Coral Springs Police officers reported that not just one deputy, but three additional deputies also failed to enter and engage. He sent off a statement to the press demanding they not run the story as it had not been confirmed. Again Israel insisted the BSO be treated one way, while he treated the NRA another.
Israel ducked responsibility again when confronted about the deputy who has since resigned. He claimed: “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.” Earlier that same day, he told Tapper that he was providing “amazing leadership” and that he was akin to a general or a president who should not be blamed for a deserter.
On Sunday, Scot Peterson, the officer who did not engage the shooter, released a long statement defending his actions. He argued in a series of bullet points that he was simply doing what he was trained to do in such a situation. Sheriff Israel had early voiced his disgust, saying Peterson should have “killed the killer.” However, Peterson may be correct as the BSO’s active shooter protocol does not specifically require that a deputy engage the shooter.
What Not to Do
President Harry Truman had a plaque at his desk that said “The buck stops here.” For Scott Israel the buck stops at NRA headquarters or wherever Dana Loesch is speaking or with his deputies, over whom he apparently has no influence. Israel used the shooting at MSDHS to cover his own mistakes and push his political agenda. If he were to write a book on leadership, distributors would have to put it in the fiction section.
Scott Israel deserves to be mentioned in leadership classes across the country as an example of what not to do. He should resign as a result of the BSO’s failures before the shooting and his disgraceful conduct after the shooting where everything was always somebody else’s fault. Given his God complex, that is unlikely.