The Broward County Sheriff's Office, the chief law enforcement agency in Broward County is one of the largest, most progressive, professional and respected organizations in the State of Florida. BSO serves our community with law enforcement, detention and fire rescue services in the Unincorporated areas of Broward County as well as in 13 local municipalities through contract services. All the vast resources of the agency are available to any municipality within Broward County.
Founded in 1915, Broward County has grown from 4,700 residents to become the second most populous county in Florida (over 1.8 million residents) and is the seventh largest in size at 1,209 square miles. With Fort Lauderdale serving as the county seat, Broward County is an international tourist destination, home to Port Everglades, one of the top three cruise ports in the world, and to the Everglades, a subtropical natural wetland shared with four other counties.
With the incorporation of the county, the Broward Sheriff's Office was formed to service all areas outside the few towns that existed at that time. The early history of actual operations during the first years of service is limited. A.W. Turner, a local county businessman, was elected as the first sheriff in 1915 with 295 votes and served until 1925. After he won the election, the Fort Lauderdale Sentinel proclaimed that Turner was "one of the best men for the place. He does not drink [and] is a man of the very best habits." His staff was small and his men bore scarce resemblance to the highly trained professionals of today. Popular with residents, Turner won election as Broward County sheriff four times. Paul C. Bryan replaced Sheriff Turner in 1925, but served only two years when Turner was re-elected into office for another four-year term.
In 1931, Walter R. Clark was the next elected Sheriff of Broward County. Sheriff Turner, who had lost in the Democratic primary to Clark, took out a newspaper ad to endorse Clark, because, in his words, "I have every reason to believe that he is a man of unquestionable character..." As with A.W. Turner, Sheriff Clark was replaced only to retake the office two years later. In 1939, Eddie Lee, a former semi-professional catcher with the Fort Lauderdale Tarpons and chief district dispatcher with the Florida Power and Light Company served the two-year term of office. Lee was a sheriff focused on eliminating bootlegging and gambling within the county.
Elected to office five times, Sheriff Clark stands as Broward County's longest running sheriff. Sheriff Clark was indicted on charges of working with a disreputable figure who ran syndicate-controlled gambling casinos in South Florida and was removed from office.
Appointed by Governor Fuller Warren in 1950, Sheriff Amos Hall presided over an administration of valuable change and growth. Hall was a trailblazer who made decisions that were unpopular at the time, but ultimately correct. Shortly after taking office the sheriff hired BSO's first black deputy, James Primous, Jr. Although removed by another, more conservative, sheriff in 1958, Deputy Primous would return in 1962 and work the remainder of his professional career with BSO. Sheriff Hall's positive attitude toward the public was reflected in his men and was recognized by the citizens of Broward who re-elected him to office in 1952. The courtesy and respect exemplified by his administration became standards that live on today.
With large areas to be patrolled and only 28 deputies to do it, the department began an expansion. During Sheriff Hall's administration, BSO expanded the organization to 50 employees. Under the supervision of Sergeant Edward Wagner, a five-man motorcycle team was organized for the sole purpose of traffic enforcement and accident investigation.
In 1954, the Broward Sheriff's Office received its first radio system, a significant advancement to the agency's communications. Sheriff's deputies were previously dispatched by Fort Lauderdale police radio. With three dispatchers and two sergeants, BSO now handled its own radio and calls for service from the community. This start was a small room, two phones, two desks and a radio which - under the constant guidance of excellent leadership - has grown to a Consolidated Regional E-911 Communications System operated today by a staff of over 500 personnel. In September 1956, Sheriff Hall opened a county holding facility, which occupied part of the fifth, sixth and seventh floors in the county courthouse. This also marked the beginnings of what is now one of the nation's most advanced detention systems, operated by over 1,200 sworn and civilian professionals, and housing over 4,500 detainees and inmates.
J. A. "Quill" Lloyd took the helm from Amos Hall in January 1957. During the four years of Sheriff Lloyd's administration a Public Safety Education division was established and, under the guidance of Sergeant Paul Radcliff, it taught the rules of safety at home and school, and the acceptance of responsibility to the children of Broward County.
In 1960, former Philadelphia police captain Allen B. Michell was sworn in as sheriff. Michell was indicted by a Florida Grand Jury in 1966 which charged him "knowingly, willfully or corruptly" allowing gambling in Broward. Florida Governor Hayden Burns suspended Michell while criminal proceedings were conducted. A Fort Lauderdale insurance executive, Thomas Walker, was appointed to serve as interim sheriff until the 1968 election. Sheriff Walker, who further diversified the agency, named Deputy Sam George as the first black member of the homicide and robbery division. According to Walker, the agency's black deputies "do just the same job as other employees, and are called upon at times to risk their lives, just like their white fellow officers".
In 1968, popular county politician Edward J. Stack was elected sheriff. With the help of Sheriff Stack's political expertise, the department made tremendous advances. Sheriff Stack realized that a public image was important and concentrated on his police services to make them highly visible. Stetsons were issued as head gear, which made the deputies stand out in a crowd. Road Patrol deputies were for the first time issued take home vehicles in 1969 and were highly visible throughout the county. To ensure a more efficient department, a mandatory training program was instituted for all deputies. From 1969 to 1978 the department increased in size to over 725 employees. Units added included Organized Crime, Criminal Investigations, Crime Control and Technical Support.
In 1974, (Communications Operator) Judy Tucker attended the Broward Police Academy. While Judy was in training, BSO hired Linda Cline, who had recently graduated from a police academy in another county. Both became the first in a long line of dedicated female road patrol deputies serving the Broward Sheriff's Office.
The countywide 9-1-1 emergency system was launched in 1975. Today, the system is among the most advanced in the nation. That same year, the Sheriff's Office also broadened its service to assume the task of security and law enforcement at the expanding Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The sheriff also began to provide bailiffs for the county court system and transportation of prisoners throughout the county.
In March 1977, the City of Lauderdale Lakes became the first municipal city to sign a contract for BSO police services. "I am trying to shape the department to give the Unincorporated area the same police protection as the cities," Sheriff Stack said at the time.
In 1978, Ed Stack was elected to the United States Congress and Judge Robert Butterworth was appointed by then Governor Bob Graham to complete Stack's term as sheriff. Sheriff Butterworth was voted into office in the 1980 election and the expansion of the department continued. In 1980, the Town of Pembroke Park contracted the sheriff's office to provide its police services and in 1981 the City of Lauderhill followed suit. In 1985, the rapid growth of western Broward prompted the creation of a separate district office to provide police services in a quick and efficient manner.
In 1982, Sheriff Butterworth was appointed Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, causing him to leave BSO and relocate to Tallahassee. The Governor then appointed Judge George Brescher to complete Butterworth's term as sheriff. Sheriff's administration was focused on curtailing drunk driving, increased attention to cases of child abuse, and the creation of a crisis negotiating team.
The administration of Sheriff Nick Navarro, which began in 1985, was characterized by a commitment to reduce crime, coupled with community outreach efforts to improve the quality of life for all Broward County residents. At the same time, the Broward Sheriff's Office emerged as a truly professional, nationally recognized law enforcement agency. Under Sheriff Navarro's leadership, BSO grew from 1,600 employees with a budget of $74 million in 1984-85, to over 3,000 employees and a $200 million budget at the end of 1992. Three additional Broward cities contracted for BSO service during Sheriff Navarro's term.
In addition to directing the operations of Broward's largest police agency, Sheriff Navarro served as Steering Committee Chairman for the multi-agency Blue Lightning Task Force, Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Association's Anti-Crack Task Force and Vice-President of the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association. His expertise in the drug enforcement field was tapped by other law enforcement officials around the United States and the department's exploits were frequently documented by the national news media. In 1989, the FOX television series COPS debuted with the first season focused on the Broward Sheriff's Office.
In 1992, voters elected Ron Cochran to serve as Sheriff of Broward County. Sheriff Cochran's law enforcement career began in 1958 when he joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department as a patrolman. Rising through the ranks of the department, he became the Chief of Police in 1983. After retiring from Fort Lauderdale in 1987, Sheriff Cochran returned to public service in 1989 as Chief of the Broward County School Board's Special Investigative Unit.
On January 5, 1993, Ron Cochran was sworn in as sheriff by Florida Attorney General, and former Sheriff, Robert Butterworth. Sheriff Cochran was joined by the county's police chiefs during the ceremony and reiterated a campaign promise that an era of cooperation between all law enforcement agencies would prevail during his term of office. As Sheriff, Cochran introduced the idea of community policing, with the belief that we had to move "off the idea that you can solve all of the world's problems by tossing people in jail."
Sheriff Cochran was re-elected to a second term in November of 1996, then in early 1997 he was diagnosed with cancer. After battling the disease for nine months, he succumbed on September 5, 1997. On November 17, 1997, the county public safety building was renamed the Ron Cochran Public Safety Complex in his honor.
Florida Governor Lawton Chiles called upon State Senator Ken Jenne to serve as sheriff and he took the oath of office on January 20, 1998. A state legislator from Broward County for nearly 20 years, Sheriff Jenne had also served as a county commissioner and assistant state attorney. He embraced the role of sheriff, visiting all districts, departments, and facilities and immersing himself in the job of running Broward's largest law enforcement agency. Sheriff Jenne pledged that the BSO would be a positive force in every aspect of community life, saying that the first priority would always be protecting the people and fighting crime.
In the September primary election of 1998, Ken Jenne was elected to continue serving as sheriff for the remaining two years of Cochran's term. Sheriff Jenne was subsequently re-elected to office in the years 2000 and 2004.
During Sheriff Jenne's tenure, the Broward Sheriff's Office experienced unprecedented growth as it expanded its law enforcement services to several of the county's incorporated municipalities. In October 2003, the Broward Sheriff's Office also merged with the county's fire rescue department. BSO Fire Rescue expanded to offer services to several cities across the county. Under Sheriff Jenne's leadership, the Broward Sheriff's Office grew to become the nation's largest fully accredited sheriff's department. In September 2007, Sheriff Jenne resigned his position and pled guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in federal court.
Governor Charlie Christ appointed BSO Major Al Lamberti, a 30-year veteran of BSO, to serve as the next Sheriff of Broward County. Sheriff Lamberti was the first Broward Sheriff to rise entirely through the ranks within BSO. In November 2008, the voters of Broward County elected Sheriff Lamberti to a four-year term as sheriff.
In 2012, Sheriff Lamberti was defeated for re-election by former Fort Lauderdale Police Department commander and North Bay Village Police Chief, Scott Israel.
On January 8, 2013, Sheriff Scott Israel - a 30-year veteran South Florida law enforcement professional - was sworn into office as the 16th Sheriff of Broward County. Upon taking office as sheriff, he diversified the department, redirected BSO's mission to focus on reducing violent crime, keeping kids out of jail and addressing the disadvantaged members of our community, including the homeless and mentally ill. As a result, crimes, including violent offenses, are down significantly and juvenile arrests have decreased through the Civil Citation program. Broward County is safer and more united as a result of his programs, community outreach initiatives and his leadership.