FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.  – Disappointed with the Broward sheriff’s handling of the Parkland school shooting, the county’s largest deputies union has scheduled a NO CONFIDENCE vote for Scott Israel.

Israel fired back late Friday, calling the decision “unfortunate and appalling” and characterizing the move as a bargaining tactic to “extort” the county into giving the deputies a pay raise, reported ABC Local 10.

no confidence

Deputy Jeff Bell, president, Broward County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. (Screenshot ABC Local 10 News)

Deputy Jeff Bell, who also serves as president of Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said in a statement Friday the move “follows many instances of suspected malfeasance, misfeasance, failure to maintain fiduciary responsibility by the sheriff, failure to properly investigate possible criminal conduct by members of his senior command staff and the lack of leadership that has crushed morale throughout the agency.”

Moreover, the hinge pin appears to be Parkland school massacre, which was rife with controversy.

Bell said how Israel handled the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prompted the vote. The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association represents 1,325 deputies, more than half of the county’s 2,560 certified deputies.

The association president said the deputies feel abandoned by their leader.

“He is not sticking up for us. He is not telling the citizens this is an isolated incident,” Bell told Local 10 Friday. “We are not taking any responsibility for the Stoneman Douglas shooting. There is no responsibility and no leadership.”

The association began taking votes with their members at 6 p.m. Friday when electronic ballots went out. The ballots will be open until Thursday.

The entire association statement can be view below:

BROWARD SHERIFF’S OFFICE DEPUTIES ASSOCIATION
LOCAL I.U.P.A 6020
April 20th 2018
Vote of No Confidence

To Everyone,

The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association is formally announcing our decision to move forward with a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in Sheriff Scott Israel. The decision to move forward with a vote of no confidence is not to be taken lightly and is something the Executive Board has discussed at length. An overwhelming majority of the Union District Representatives have advised the Executive Board that the membership wants a vote of no confidence.

As a Democracy based organization, this Union listens to it’s membership. All Deputies and Sergeants in the Department of Law Enforcement who work within the collective bargaining unit will be allowed to participate in the vote of no confidence. 

Electronic ballots will be sent to Union members to their personal email address. Union members who have not provided the Union with their personal email address and non-Union members who are covered under the collective bargaining agreement will be eligible to vote at the Union office. All voting will be 100% confidential and anonymous. The agency does not have any to know how you vote. The Union office will be open April 23rd through April 26th 2018 from 9am till 5pm for voting. Only Union members who have not provided the union with their home email address and Non-Union members will be eligible to vote at the Union office. Please make sure to check your inbox, spam folder and junk mail folder for your ballot.

Distrust between the Union and the Administration has recently triggered a Union audit of the Sheriff’s Office. Last year alone, the Sheriff’s Office did not use $100 million dollars from a revised budget of $887 million dollars and the Sheriff’s Office has already projected that they will not use a minimum of $103 million this year. In 2016 and 2015, the audit revealed $84 million and $65 million not used respectively.

Money returned to the County could not only have been used for overdue raises but it could have been used for healthcare, needed life- saving equipment, a gun range, properly paying out sick time at retirement age or to help fund a crime lab that is at risk of losing accreditation and can no longer afford to test certain drugs and paraphernalia.

Additional wasteful spending has been identified in giving community leaders take home cars and allowing private businesses such as NAPA Auto the ability to use our gas pumps for free tax payer paid gasoline which totaled almost 6,000 gallons in just over one year alone. While the Sheriff’s Office tells you there is no money, NAPA is still getting FREE gas at our pumps.

The Union is witnessing an increase of discipline for Deputies and Sergeants in recent months. The standards applied for discipline for command staff is far more forgiving than discipline for our membership. Deputies receive suspensions for unintentional body camera violations while members of the command staff receive counseling forms for untruthfulness and other more serious misconduct. The Union only seeks fair and equal punishment for all employees who are facing discipline.

The Membership has cited poor policies such as the PROMISE Program, Civil Citation program, De-Escalation training, politeness in policing and training with plastic toy guns for real life scenarios as just some of the reasons for such low morale in the Agency. Additional paperwork for restrictive use of force policies and failure to yield packets have discouraged proactive policing which in turn creates an environment of fear of punishment for having low “stats”.

In addition to the examples above, the membership has expressed a sense of abandonment by the Sheriff and the Administration since the fateful day of February 14th 2018 when 17 people lost their lives at Stoneman Douglas High School. Placing all of the blame on one Deputy and criticizing the NRA before all the facts were known was premature at a minimum. There have been too many complaints from co-worker of feeling ashamed of the uniform and not feeling a sense of pride in the Agency anymore. The Parkland incident and how it was handled was simply the catalyst for this vote.

Please keep in mind that these are only just a few examples that have been brought to the Union attention. We feel that you, the membership must have the necessary information about some of these incidents in order to make an informed decision.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has never held a vote of no confidence. You will be the first Deputies of Broward County to ever participate in a vote of no confidence for the Sheriff of Broward County. By speaking as one united voice, we can become the strongest voice ever heard within the Broward Sheriff’s Office and put an end to the division caused between the ranks by the Agency.

no confidence

Sheriff Scott Israel. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

“It is unfortunate and appalling that the IUPA union boss—in the midst of ongoing labor contract salary negotiations—is trying to use the Parkland tragedy as a bargaining tactic to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise from BSO through this ‘vote of no confidence’ ploy,” Israel said in a statement.

The county’s other police union, the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, sought to distance itself from the no confidence vote.

“This is the work of another union and does not represent how the members of the PBA feel,” said Bob Lahiff, director of BSO membership services. “We will let the [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] investigation continue and not jump to judgmental, as others have done.”

Israel has been criticized by people across the board—in and out of law enforcement—for his agency’s response to the Valentine’s Day mass shooting that left 17 people dead.

Furthermore, Israel has rejected calls to resign, including from state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton.

The man who was elected sheriff in 2012, told CNN in the aftermath of the shooting that he displayed “amazing leadership,” a self-glorifying assessment that seemed to be degraded quickly by critics.

Sheriff Israel is taking heat from the public as well as deputies of Broward County. A majority of those commenting on the Local ABC 10 News story held unfavorable views.

“It isn’t just the Deputies who have no confidence in Scott Isreals leadership, the public doesn’t have any confidence in him either,” wrote David David. “Since day one he has been nothing other than an incompetant (SIC) grandstanding politician who never misses a photo op. He should resign or the governor should remove him.”