By air or by sea, and on the ground, the Broward Sheriff's Office's specialized units are devoted to keeping all of the county's 1.9 million residents and millions of annual visitors safer. In fact, these countywide units, when working in tandem with our dedicated men and women on the streets, provide exceptional service to all the cities in Broward County – not just those policed by BSO.
I'd like to tell you about a few of these units and how they serve our communities.
We've all seen police forensics shows like "C.S.I." and how they amazingly use DNA and other forensic evidence to catch a criminal within an hour-long episode. But, in real life, this sort of work takes weeks or even months. This meticulous work requires patience and precision, qualities the roughly 50 dedicated professionals in BSO's Crime Laboratory display every day. In fact, our crime lab is a nationally-recognized leader in the forensic science community as the first sheriff's office crime laboratory to become internationally accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
BSO's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team has been bravely serving Broward for more than four decades. During that time, SWAT has responded to some of the county's most dangerous law enforcement situations, including barricaded subjects and hostage-taking situations, violent felon search/arrest warrant operations and other tactical operations. Today, nearly 40 deputies, nine county firefighter/paramedics and 12 negotiators staff this team.
It also takes a special type of person to run toward a potential explosive and attempt to defuse it. But that's exactly what our BSO Bomb Squad technicians do. This unit coordinates the investigations of situations involving the use of bombs, explosives and mass-destruction weapons and at post-blast explosion scenes. The unit's highly-trained and skilled members are equipped with state-of-the-art tools including two custom-designed bomb disposal response vehicles, a full-containment explosive vessel with transport, the newest remote bomb disposal robot and two additional remote control robots.
BSO must also give thanks to the furry friends in our K-9 unit who help sniff out crime. These loyal canine deputies of various breeds are specially bred and trained for a variety of tasks. Some canines track and apprehend criminals, while others search for and find missing persons. Other BSO dogs sniff out narcotics and bombs and even find contraband smuggled into our jails. Today, we have 55 dogs assigned throughout the agency available around the clock for immediate response.
Our countywide units are not limited to the land. The BSO Marine Unit provides critical help in our waterways, and our Aviation Unit helicopters are our eyes in the sky, helping to locate and apprehend violent criminals. They also routinely perform emergency medical transports and assist with rescue missions in the Florida Everglades.
And all of these services – which are called "regional services" – are made available upon request to help assist law enforcement departments in every corner of Broward.
At BSO, our tasks may be varied, but our mission is the same: to serve and protect all of Broward.
Sheriff Scott Israel