Sheriff Tony
Sheriff Tony

From the Editor:

First and foremost, Parkland Talk’s mission is to bring the community together, and for that reason, we have refrained from endorsing one political candidate over another.

But now, it’s our deep tie to this community — and having witnessed the devastation that followed the school shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 — that we feel compelled to deliver a sharp retort to the Sun Sentinel editorial that appeared in Sunday’s paper, and offer a full-throated endorsement of Sheriff Gregory Tony in the Democratic primary on Aug. 18.

Why the Sun Sentinel would call for the removal and replacement of Sheriff Scott Israel and then back him as he seeks his “sheriff” title once again is a real head-scratcher.

It’s impossible to believe that the paper has forgotten its eloquent airing of Israel’s failings that added up to 17 dead and 17 wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that Valentine’s Day that broke all our hearts.

Now that the Sun Sentinel’s Pulitzer Prize — the Public Service Medal — for covering the Parkland shooting is safely tucked in its display case, the position that Israel must go apparently no longer serves the paper’s purposes.

Alas, to us, it appears that in this endorsement — and among Broward County’s Democratic Party “in crowd” — politics has moved ahead of public safety.

We stand firmly with local leaders who are endorsing Tony, who praise the current sheriff’s outreach and communication style.

True, Tony should have indicated on his Coral Springs police application that he shot another young man to death when he was a juvenile, living in Philadelphia. He also should have addressed other youthful mistakes involving a bad check and his alleged use of LSD.

But that, along with Tony’s possible conflict of interest in his business dealings, seem small matters when you consider Israel’s failings have added up to actual dead bodies.

The Sun Sentinel’s own reporting found Israel failed to lead after his department’s radio system failed during a 2017 airport shooting. It’s a credit to the department that the shooter there was apprehended immediately, but the sheriff’s radio system left thousands stranded on the airport tarmac for hours.

Nothing had been done by the time Nikolas Cruz went on his deadly rampage, and deputies were forced to use hand signals because their radios failed.

And you’d think that a county that had been through one mass shooting would have its deputies prepared for another, but the response to Parkland’s pain would not indicate that Scott Israel did that.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission found that eight deputies failed to rush into the building and confront the shooter. The report also details precious minutes lost as students and staff lay bleeding inside Building 12.

Tony has shaken up the union representing the department’s rank and file. We think they needed shaking up. We urge voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box Aug. 18. Vote for Sheriff Gregory Tony, a  man who takes leadership seriously and doesn’t just brag about his “amazing leadership” on CNN.

Hunter Pollack, who lost his sister, Meadow, that terrible day, said he was “disgusted” when he read the Sun Sentinel’s endorsement. Campaigning for Tony, he said, is about trying to keep Broward County’s two million residents safe.

“That endorsement was spit on every victim’s grave and their families’ pain,” Pollack said. “If Scott Israel hadn’t been sheriff that day, my sister might still be alive.”

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