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Florida deputies' union targets Broward County sheriff with billboard

Broward County sheriff's deputies have followed up their largely symbolic vote of no confidence against embattled She...

Posted: May 5, 2018 10:38 AM
Updated: May 5, 2018 10:38 AM

Broward County sheriff's deputies have followed up their largely symbolic vote of no confidence against embattled Sheriff Scott Israel with a billboard message for Florida's governor.

"Governor Scott: There is no confidence in Sheriff Israel," reads the green billboard on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 between Oakland Park and Sunrise boulevards in Broward County.

The Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association took a 534-94 vote of no confidence against Israel last week, with union President Jeff Bell vowing to ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to consider removing the sheriff.

"The union is keeping its promise to make our voice heard outside Broward County," Bell said of the billboard. "Hopefully the governor will now see how serious we are that change in leadership is needed for the agency and the safety of the community."

There was no immediate comment from Israel, who said in a statement after the union vote that he was accountable only to the citizens of the county.

"My job is to continue to do the job I was elected to do, which is to ensure the safety of Broward County's 1.9 million residents," the sheriff's statement said. "I will not be distracted from my duties by this inconsequential IUPA union vote."

The union has cited what it said were "many instances of malfeasance ... and the lack of leadership" as reasons for the vote.

The union also said the sheriff's handling of the Parkland school shooting enraged the rank and file, including an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper during which Israel boasted of his "amazing leadership."

Scott's office referred questions about the billboard to a statement it issued last week, saying the governor requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate the Parkland shooting as well as the law enforcement response.

"Once that investigation is complete, and we have all the facts, the appropriate steps will be taken to hold people accountable," the statement said.

Eleven days after the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 other Republican representatives asked Scott, in a letter, to suspend the sheriff for what they called his "incompetence and neglect of duty."

The lawmakers also cited the failure of Scott and his deputies to enter the school building to stop the shooter, and their failure to act on warning signs about the shooter for years.

Two other unions -- The Federation Of Public Employees and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #53 -- have written letters in support of Israel.

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