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Nancy Smith

Replace Broward's Israel and Runcie Now

January 4, 2019 - 6:00am
Robert Runcie and Scott Israel
Robert Runcie and Scott Israel

Ten months after 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Scott Israel and Robert Runcie are still looking for redemption. Certainly neither one of them -- the Broward County sheriff nor the superintendent of schools -- found it in the MSDHS Public Safety Commission initial report released Wednesday.

The report is utterly damning. 

Non-existent security measures, an inadequate law enforcement response and a school-system threat assessment process that put everybody inside the school at risk -- it was all there in the report.

I Beg to DifferWhat's worse, during a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Commission Chairman Bob Gualtieri, sheriff of Pinellas County, said students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas still aren't safe. Some of the same holes in the school's safety net remain -- even now, months and months after 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz walked unimpeded onto campus, through unguarded open gates, then an unlocked school door -- all while carrying a perfectly obvious and undisguised rifle bag.

Did you get that? Some of the same holes in the school's safety net remain ... 

That's enough. No more.

Israel and Runcie should be removed and replaced, and not after the commission has finished. Now.

There were too many dead and wounded on Valentine's Day, too many important failures where the buck stops.

"Failures by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and school district cost children their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," the Sun-Sentinel wrote about the 58 minutes of chaos on campus during which no one took charge. "A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunders, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed. ..."

While Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis was campaigning, he made it clear: If it were up to me, I would have suspended Israel for his department's failures. He said that twice.

Luckily, in three more days it will indeed be up to DeSantis.

The commission has years of meetings ahead to establish good school-safety policy, not just for Broward but for all Florida schools. If DeSantis keeps this pair of Jacob Marleys on board, dragging their heavy clanking chains, all it will do is serve as an aching reminder to the families and friends of the victims that Israel and Runcie's incompetence and excuses are being washed clean -- corrected.

I agree with the Sun-Sentinel, Broward County's local newspaper, whose editors wrote in a Dec. 26, 2018 editorial: "... after seeing the damning details in the commission’s draft report -- and Israel’s troubling testimony -- we cannot encourage the governor-elect to wait and let voters decide the sheriff’s fate in 2020."

Neither has Superintendent Runcie acted responsibly, before or after the massacre. Here's what the Sun-Sentinel reported: "For months, Broward schools delayed or withheld records, refused to publicly assess the role of employees, spread misinformation and even sought to jail reporters who published the truth.

"New information gathered ... proves that the school district knew far more than it’s saying about a disturbed former student obsessed with death and guns ... 

"After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public.

"The district also spent untold amounts on lawyers to fight the release of records and nearly $200,000 to pay public relations consultants who advised administrators to clam up ..."

Remember, it's Superintendent Runcie who commands this leaking ship.

The initial report released Wednesday reflects a perfect storm of incompetence in Broward County, setting out why 17 people died and 17 were wounded Feb. 14 in Parkland. Here's a sampling:

  • Shooter Nikolas Cruz’s mental and behavioral health issues; 
  • People not reporting warning signs or reporting signs that were not acted on by those to whom actionable information was reported;
  • How Cruz’s behavioral and discipline issues were addressed (or not addressed) by Broward County Public Schools;
  • The overall lack of adequate or effective physical site security;
  • Unenforced or non-existent security measures and policies at MSDHS;
  • The ineffective behavioral threat assessment process at MSDHS;
  • The unsatisfactory law enforcement response, which includes the flawed City of Parkland 911 system and the flawed and failed Broward County law enforcement radio system; 
  • The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s inadequate active assailant response policy;
  • The abysmal response by the school’s SRO;
  • A failed response by some law enforcement officers and supervisors and BSO’s flawed unified command and control of the scene ...

Broward County -- for that matter, all of Florida -- needs a fresh start in moving forward. It needs a strong policy administered by leaders with the will and follow-through to keep our community as safe as is humanly possible. Hopefully, Gov. DeSantis will make one of his first orders of business removing and replacing failed Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

None too soon for these two to be gone and to never hold any leadership office again anywhere in the state of Florida.

Right! Dump these two the same day the U.S. House and Senate dump Trump!

As is typical "Blue", YOU just don't get it... (try to stay focused)

Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle! Yeah, Trumpnut, you pick and choose who you'll hold accountable among Democrats ... while you defend corrupt and criminal Republicans, including the Trumpnut-In-Chief, and allow them to run amok. Double-standard hypocrisy. Typical.

Ooops,.. "Chuckles" has returned... (without his "Voted Blue" sobriquet)... Good to see you back "Chins".

The ever existent "PROBLEM"?!?!?.... "uber-Liberal thinkers" are "IN CHARGE" of our schools, our kids, and America's ENTIRE "educational system" ( from "K thru 12"); 'AS WELL AS' our "college system" across America... THAT'S THE "PROBLEM"... ("in a nutshell") ! ! !

There are too many breakdowns to count, school system, law enforcement, FBI, DCF, etc., etc. Yet Sherriff Gualtieri is right. Had there been one armed, trained school system employee that acted in the absence of adequate law enforcement action, lives would have been saved that day. I don't get it. We have armed security at every bank to protect our money, yet my kids are worth so much more than every cent I have, yet no armed security. It should be the highest of priorities, right now.

Why just make this a partisan issue? What you forgot to mention and who also should be held accountable is the DCF Chief for Broward County who failed to act on many issues, his having firearms as a mental health patient paramount. Also the FBI Field Supervisor for the office who received several credible complaints he was planning to do this and followed up on none of them. There is no doubt the Sheriff and School Superintendent bear some responsibility, but so do the others. Quit always making your BS about politics and make it about the right thing to do...Geez people, wake up...

The need to remove two delusional 'leaders' is real and overdue. Neither has taken responsibility nor accountability as we approach the first anniversary of this massacre. Their ostrich like persona underscores just how aloof both are trying to deflect blame elsewhere. But the 800 pound gorilla in the room no one is talking about is how the school system dealt with troubled and unruly students with mental health issues and tried to hide behind 'privacy' concerns. Only when mental health professionals are held personally and professionally liable and accountable when they treat these cases so lightly. I've been saying this since Columbine but no one will champion this issue and take ownership so it can be corrected and not happened again and again as it has. Perhaps if the mental health folks did their job, Cruz would have put on a list preventing him from acquiring the sport rifle legally in the first place. This kid has been kicked down the road repeatedly by an inept school policy coupled with malpractice of those who 'treated' him. The time for accountability is now. Sad it had to come to this, very sad.

Nancy, you hit the nail on the head...both need to be removed by Governor-elect Ron DeSantis...I believe that Gov. Rick Scott also asked FDLE to do an investigation into the Sheriff's response to the school shooting and that report should be forthcoming soon...in any event, both clearly need to be removed from office...let them have their trial before the Senate if need be to clear the air...but Pinealls Co. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri's Commission work product speaks loud and clearly on who failed their duty to the public and to the children in this unfortunate incident

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