Broward Sheriff Candidate Scott Israel: "I Have a Pristine Record"
|We met Israel at the Barnes and Noble in Coral Springs, at his suggestion.|
Scott Israel: Lack of leadership. People are only led by people they want to be led by. They don't want to be led by our sheriff. I hear terms [from contacts at BSO] like "rudderless ship."
Are you talking about dissension in the ranks?
Not just in the ranks. It's countywide. I think different industries are aware of it. People are reading about it.
This seems like a good time for us to mention the anonymous book that was recently published, which alleged serious corruption at BSO, credited Scott Rothstein for Lamberti's appointment, and alleged that "the fifth floor was on lockdown" at BSO headquarters. For all we know, you wrote it...
I didn't write the book. I did read a book one time that says "We reap what we sow." If [any of the allegations] is fact, then I hope the public will be made aware of it. If it's affecting the [sheriff's] ability to lead the community, it should be made public.
What about your own ability to lead?
It's exemplary. I have a pristine record, and I certainly understand the meaning of the word pristine. I was voted Democrat of the Year, and the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association voted me Chief of the Year [of North Bay Village]. I worked on programs to keep kids out of jail, instead of putting them in jail when they commit crimes.
Speaking of that "Democrat of the Year" thing. New Times put you on its Dirty Dozen list in 2008, and one of the main reasons we cited was your pragmatic switch from lifelong Republican to Democrat just in time to challenge Lamberti, a Republican, that November. What gives?
Here's the story. I grew up in a Democratic household in New York City and learned the ideals of Dr. King: to ask what you are doing for others, and that we should be our brother's keeper. But when I registered to vote for the first time in Long Island, I registered as a Republican, and I never bothered to change it.
You worked as a police officer in Fort Lauderdale, a medium-sized city, then became chief in the tiny town of North Bay Village. Did this adequately prepare you for taking on the huge, sprawling BSO?
I spent 25 years with the Fort Lauderdale Police, which is one of the largest police forces in the area, and rose to the positions of community policing commander, SWAT commander, and operational support commander. As far as North Bay Village: Leadership is not about size. It's about making sure your team is behind you and about what you do with the resources you have and getting things done through others. Al Lamberti is from one of the largest departments [he spent 30 years in the ranks at BSO], but his leadership has been abysmal.
As a SWAT commander, I directed people to take the life of a subject. I made some life-taking decisions, and it wasn't easy.
Let's talk about public accountability. We in the media get frustrated when a deputy-involved-shooting investigation stalls with little information released, for example.
I believe the BSO is owned by the people, and it's got to be like Denny's: open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That said, in many aspects of a shooting investigation, the officers are protected by a bill of rights. But whatever can be given to the public will be distributed to the public. If the officers did everything right, I will go before the cameras and say so. If they made mistakes, I'll say that too.