BSO's largest union throws support behind Sheriff Israel

The Broward Sheriff's Office's largest union is throwing its support behind Sheriff Scott Israel, days after another union announced that the sheriff would face a no-confidence vote.

In a letter sent Monday to Israel, the Federation of Public Employees, which represents 2,500 BSO employees, thanked the sheriff "for all you do."

"As your largest union, we support you and have confidence in how you are running this large complex agency," the letter read, in part.

It was announced last week that a different union, the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association, is conducting a poll of its members about their confidence in Israel.

President Jeff Bell said Friday that Israel's handling of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting that killed 14 students and three staff members is a major component of the no-confidence campaign, saying he should not have put the full blame on Deputy Scot Peterson, the school's resource officer.

Video shows Peterson remained outside after investigators say former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire Feb. 14 inside the three-story freshman building with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Israel said shortly after the shooting that Peterson should have rushed into the building to confront and kill Cruz. Peterson retired rather than accept an unpaid suspension.

Israel issued a statement Friday saying it is "unfortunate and appalling" that Bell is using the school shooting "as a bargaining tactic to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise" for the union's members. The 3-year-old union represents the office's deputies who hold the rank of sergeant and below, and its contract expires Sept. 30.

Shortly after the shooting, Israel faced backlash for his agency's possible mishandling of some of the 18 tipster calls it had received about Cruz, 19. The tips were among a series of what authorities now describe as the clearest missed signals that Cruz, who had a history of disturbing behavior, posed a serious threat. Israel praised himself in a TV interview shortly after the shooting, saying he had shown "amazing leadership" in the tragedy's wake.

Bell said contract negotiations played no role in calling the vote and there are other issues besides the shooting. BSO has about 5,300 employees.

The Federation of Public Employees said their recent contract passed by a vote of 1,111 to 38.

"This is a vote of confidence in how you treat us and how our bargaining unit feels about you," their letter read.

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