News from BSO

BSO LAUDED FOR HOMELESS & HATE CRIMES ADVOCACY

Date: January 3, 2013                                                                      PIO Number: 13-1-5

1:30 p.m. News Conference
Friday, January 4, 2013
Public Safety Building
2601 W. Broward Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale

For more than four years the Broward Sheriff’s Office has worked to reduce hate crimes and crimes against the homeless. As a result of that hard work and dedication, Florida no longer leads the nation in attacks on the homeless and Broward no longer leads the state in reported hate crimes.

“Hatred based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation and residential status can’t be tolerated. Four years ago I was disturbed to learn that Broward was number one when it came to these senseless acts fueled by hate, and I am proud today that is no longer true,” said Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Earlier this week, in two separate reports, BSO was lauded for its efforts to reduce violence against the homeless population. In the National Coalition for the Homeless report titled “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless: The Brutality of Violence Unveiled,” it states “…that in 2011, hate crimes against homeless people significantly decreased in Florida due to the emergence of a new state-level legislation that incorporated homelessness into its hate crimes law.” According to the Florida Attorney General’s 2011 Hate Crimes Report, Broward County no longer leads the state in reported hate crimes.

Sheriff Lamberti created the Hate Crimes/Anti-Bias Task Force in September 2008 and tapped Captain Rick Wierzbicki to head the effort.

Captain Wierzbicki worked tirelessly to get Florida House Bill 11 passed through the House and Senate. On May 11, 2010, Governor Charlie Crist signed the historic Crimes Against Homeless Persons Act into law. HB 11 enhanced Florida’s Hate Crimes statute and afforded more protection to crime victims who are attacked on the basis of their homelessness.

Since then, Captain Wierzbicki has taken his fight to Washington DC, testifying before the United States Senate and House of Representatives about the importance of protecting the rights and equality of all people. Captain Wierzbicki said, “BSO is now considered a national model for protecting the rights of the homeless.”

This report by:

Veda Coleman-Wright / PIO

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