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After voting to reinstate Scott Israel, Kevin Rader endorses Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony

Rader explained the decision in a Sun Sentinel op-ed Wednesday.

State Sen. Kevin Rader, whose South Florida district covers the site of the 2018 Parkland attack, says he will endorse current Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony over former Sheriff Scott Israel.

Tony took over the gig after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel, citing failures including his office’s response to the Parkland shooting.

Israel was officially removed from the post by a 25-15 vote in the Senate in October. Rader was one of those 15 Senators who voted for Israel to stay on the job.

But with Israel now running for reelection, Rader says he will back Tony’s bid to remain in that post. Tony formally announced his reelection bid Monday.

“I recently participated in one of the toughest and most consequential votes of my time in the Florida Legislature — one which would determine whether Scott Israel would be re-instated as Broward sheriff or be permanently removed,” Rader wrote in a Sun Sentinel op-ed explaining his endorsement of Tony.

“As difficult as it was, I voted to reinstate him because I did not believe Gov. DeSantis had the right to remove him from office. However, I absolutely believe the voters should reject candidate Scott Israel in 2020.”

Indeed, in debate on the Senate floor, Rader did not back Israel’s effectiveness on the job in his decision to support reinstatement. Rather, he worried DeSantis did not lay out a sufficient legal case to remove Israel, who had been elected.

And Rader echoed concerns of several of his Democratic colleagues that it could set a bad precedent going forward.

“The families deserve justice for what occurred on that tragic day,” Rader said during that debate. “But the decisions we make in this chamber may have grave consequences in coming similar circumstances.”

Special Master Dudley Goodlette, a Republican former lawmaker tasked with reviewing the case by Senate President Bill Galvano, felt the same. Goodlette recommended reinstatement in his report to the Senate.

But while Rader and others argued BSO failures did not rise to the level to support removal by the Governor, Rader said those shortcomings should stop voters from giving Israel another crack at the job.

“Under Israel’s command, the department mismanaged crisis after crisis, with Parkland being the most tragic and most noticeable debacle under his watch,” Rader wrote in his endorsement.

“But I believe that ultimately, his numerous failures should be judged by the voters. That is in part why I will be supporting Sheriff Gregory Tony in the upcoming Broward Sheriff election, and I hope others in our community will too.”

He also praised Tony’s actions after taking over the job.

“As the first African-American sheriff in our county’s history, Sheriff Tony has shown a sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion in public safety,” Rader said.

“He has brought on the most diverse command staff in BSO’s 104-year history, including appointing the first black female undersheriff, Col. Nichole Anderson. Half of all recent promotions have been women and recruitment of new hires is increasing the diversity of the entire agency. In short, BSO is beginning to look like Broward County.”

Rader also cited the establishment of a new Real Time Crime Center, which gives BSO direct access security cameras in the event of a threat.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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