Special session begins Monday to decide fate of sheriff

Scott Israel was suspended by governor for neglect of duty in Parkland shooting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida senators will start a special session Monday to decide the fate of suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made Israel's ouster one of his first priorities after taking office in January, accusing the embattled law- enforcement veteran of "incompetence" and "neglect of duty" for deaths resulting from mass shootings at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport the previous year.

The Senate, which has the authority to reinstate or remove elected officials, will convene the special session Monday morning. The Senate Rules Committee then will meet at 10:30 a.m., to consider the recommendations of Special Master Dudley Goodlette, a former Republican legislator appointed by Senate President Bill Galvano to preside over Israel's appeal of the suspension.

In a stunning blow to DeSantis last month, Goodlette found the Republican governor failed to make the case for Israel's suspension and recommended the Senate reinstate the Broward County Democrat.

The Rules Committee will hear from lawyers representing Israel and DeSantis, as well as from members of the public, on Monday.

Parkland victims' families fiercely oppose giving Israel his old job back, a message the still-grieving parents are certain to deliver in stark terms to the bipartisan committee and to the full Senate, which will meet later in the week to cast the decisive votes on Israel's fate.

Without question, the Senate committee meeting and floor sessions will be emotionally charged.

Goodlette received a death threat after his report was released in late September, Galvano spokeswoman Katie Betta confirmed. Galvano directed the Senate sergeant to alert the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the threat, which the Senate president considered "very serious," Betta said.

"The Senate is coordinating with Capitol Police to ensure the safety of all visitors, staff and senators attending meetings related to the special session. President Galvano has requested that enhanced security precautions and protocols, which are confidential, be in place for the proceedings," she said in an email.