Parkland-era Broward sheriff to soon retire as Opa-locka police chief a year into job

SAM NAVARRO/Special for the Miami Herald

Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel is stepping down as Opa-locka’s police chief after spending a year with the department.

Israel and Interim City Manager Darvin Williams will hold a news conference Friday morning to announce the chief’s retirement. Opa-locka, a city with a history of turnover and turmoil in its police department, hired Israel as its police chief in May 2022.

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Israel, who had a highly criticized tenure with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was ousted by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019. This came after a state-appointed panel found that his lack of leadership likely contributed to deputies not confronting Nikolas Cruz during the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen students and staff died and another 17 were injured.

Israel was elected twice to BSO’s top job but lost a bitter battle in 2020 to Sheriff Gregory Tony, who DeSantis previously appointed. Tony still leads the agency.

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Opa-locka’s police department — not unlike the city’s government as a whole — has experienced scandal among rank-and-file officers and mismanagement in the hierarchy for years.

The central Miami-Dade city has been under state oversight since a 2016 FBI investigation into public corruption. More than a half-dozen people were convicted in the probe, including a city commissioner, two top administrators and a lobbyist.

Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report