In 1929, Sara Freeman was hired as a bookkeeper at the Broward Sheriff's Office with an annual salary of $1,800. Her initial duties involved recording and organizing the agency's financial data. Sara eventually became the jail matron, monitoring female inmates at the Broward jail. These subsequent duties led to Sara becoming BSO's first female deputy. Deputy Freeman retired in 1946, but the legacy she left behind created opportunities for women to hold positions of power in public safety that are echoed throughout BSO today.
The representation of women in command positions has been a process. It has not always been easy, fair or fast. As sheriff, I have prioritized inclusion, fairness and equality as central tenets of our organization. When I assumed command of BSO in 2019, female representation was void at the highest ranks. Today, nearly 40 percent of our organization is comprised of women, each creating their own accomplished history and positively influencing future generations of public safety professionals. Throughout BSO, women now occupy leadership positions at the highest levels of decision and policy making—as undersheriff, chief of staff, colonels, majors, captains, fire rescue chiefs and directors.
In the spirit of our first female deputy, I want to highlight a few exceptional female firsts promoted during my administration.
Undersheriff Nichole Anderson has achieved many firsts, shattering numerous glass ceilings in her path. In 2011, she became the first Black female chief to head a district command; in 2017, she became the first Black female promoted to major; and in 2019, she became the first to attain the rank of colonel. Later that year, Colonel Anderson made history again when she became the first Black and first woman undersheriff in BSO's history. I promoted her because of her tremendous qualifications, work ethic and leadership. I consider her promotion one of my best decisions as sheriff.
When Samantha Whitehorne initially pursued a career in the fire service, she was met with resistance. She was told no one would hire her because she was Black and a woman. Samantha took this as motivation and began her journey, earning every promotion and breaking all barriers. She became the first Black female firefighter at Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue in 2000 before the department merged with BSO. She rose to the rank of lieutenant in 2006. In 2017, she began teaching and training emergency medical workers at Broward College. In 2022, I was proud to promote Samantha to district chief in Deerfield Beach, marking the first time a Black female would hold this position.
I am equally proud of Stephanie Jacobi's recent promotion to captain over our Special Patrol Division, which includes SWAT, the Aviation Unit, Marine Patrol and the K-9 Unit. She is the first woman to serve in this capacity. Captain Jacobi is an 18-year BSO veteran who has served in many critical roles, including as a property and violent crimes detective and hostage negotiator. She credits female mentors throughout her career for showing her what it takes to succeed. She hopes to do the same for other young women.
Dr. Debra White also has a long history with BSO. She began her career as a detention deputy in 1984. Soon after, Dr. White graduated from the police academy in 1990 and became a road patrol deputy and a school resource officer. After a decorated law enforcement career, she retired in 2015, until I encouraged her to return to BSO to share her talents once again. Now, she puts faith first, serving as our organization's first female chaplain services manager.
These are just a few of the many incredible women of BSO who are trailblazers and role models for the leaders of tomorrow. I am honored to work alongside them. Their service and dedication to keeping our communities safe are a true inspiration.
Sheriff Gregory TonyService Equals Reward
No one event had a more profound impact on the Broward Sheriff's Office than the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School on February 14, 2018. The loss of 17 innocent lives at the Parkland school is the reason I arrived at BSO, with the vow that we would do everything in our power to ensure that what occurred that day would never happen again. Today, we are better trained and more prepared, leveraging technology, utilizing resources and consistently readying our first responders to protect our schools.
In 2019, I created the Threat Management Unit (TMU) and Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) to proactively investigate potential threats to our schools and the community. Since then, the TMU has investigated approximately 4,230 potentially violent incidents, resulting in more than 300 arrests. One of those arrests was a teenager who threatened to carry out a mass shooting at MSD in 2021. With access to nearly 18,000 school cameras across Broward County, the RTCC provides live intelligence during investigations and helps direct first responders in real time during an incident. The RTCC is expanding significantly, increasing its space and staffing and enhancing our investigative capabilities.
As an expert in active shooter training and response, I saw improving the training standards for all our first responders as an immediate priority. Today, we train to respond to any incident, regardless of size or scale. All our first responders, including our school resource officers, participate in annual active assailant training with our Tactical Training Unit. The 13-person unit, which includes our most skilled and tactically trained deputies, provides the highest level of proficiency training to sworn personnel throughout the organization.
Our Incident Command System training ensures all personnel, regardless of rank or role, understand their responsibilities and the overall structure of critical incident response and emergency management principles, which are crucial to effectively handling critical incidents. BSO command staff participate in key operational scenarios such as establishing command posts, implementing staging areas, managing crisis communications, coordinating resources, and integrating multi-agency responses under a unified command. These extensive trainings prepare us to respond to and effectively manage emergencies. BSO is committed to continuously incorporating real-life scenarios into our training regimen to maintain operational readiness.
To enhance operational efficiency and ensure every incident is handled as expeditiously as possible, we unified our Training Division and Special Operations Bureau to form our Department of Preparedness and Response. A highlight of this new department is the Threat Intervention Tactics Analytics Network (T.I.T.A.N.). This intelligence-led policing unit works to stop terrorist acts or threats of violence. A feature of T.I.T.A.N is our organization's first full-time SWAT team, which provides high visibility and security to various critical infrastructure in the county, such as our airport and seaport. The team is also ready for immediate deployment in the event of a mass casualty incident.
The pinnacle of our commitment to protect our schools and our entire community will be our state-of-the-art Research, Development, and Training Center (RDTC), which will open later this year. The RDTC will house all our training efforts under one roof, allowing for greater preparedness, multi-departmental and jurisdictional training and streamlined resources.
A two-story memorial will grace the walls of the RDTC's main entrance. Etched into it will be the 17 names of the lives lost during the MSD shooting. The building is dedicated to these victims and serves as a continual reminder of our ultimate purpose: We train in their memory. We prepare to prevent further tragedies. We will never forget them and why we made significant changes to our organization to protect our schools and children.
This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Broward Sheriff's Office. As we continue to provide the highest level of public safety services to Broward County, we're thrilled to welcome the new year with some compelling initiatives on the horizon. We are launching a comprehensive strategic plan aimed at effectively addressing and overcoming challenges related to the safety and well-being of our community. Our state-of-the-art training facility will open, allowing for expanded training opportunities and increased educational opportunities for our employees. In addition, we plan to further enhance our innovative crime-fighting units. Our direction is part of our blueprint to remain at the forefront as a progressive and effective public safety organization.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTUREThis year, we will implement our four-year strategic plan, which will help us proactively address the public safety challenges of tomorrow. A committee of BSO employees across the organization formulated the plan. Working together, we looked at areas of our organization to strengthen, processes to consolidate for a more efficient workflow and opportunities to support the mission of safeguarding our community. I look forward to sharing more about this plan in the coming months.
RAISING TRAINING TO NEW LEVELSBSO's Research, Development and Training Center (RDTC) will be the cornerstone of our organization's commitment to preparedness. The facility is the first dedicated onsite training center in our organization's 109-year history. It will elevate our preparedness, enhance our public safety services and consolidate all BSO's training under one roof. The center will include classrooms, simulation labs, tactical firing ranges with vehicle access, simulated scenario ranges and a cutting-edge wellness center.
The BSO Training Division is also in ongoing talks with several educational institutions to offer additional employee development programs at the RDTC. These courses will focus on personal, supervisory and executive leadership. The skills learned will help employees as they progress through their careers at BSO.
HIGHER LEARNING OPPORTUNITIESOur commitment to education will continue. It's a challenge I take personally. In 2024, I will complete my Ph.D. in criminal justice and organizational leadership. Yet, this thirst for learning is not mine alone. Educational advancement is now part of the spirit of our organization. Through partnerships with Nova Southeastern University and Lynn University, we offer employees degree programs that teach social responsibility and civic engagement, ultimately imparting a better understanding of public service. These programs not only help instill our staff with the skills and knowledge to best serve our communities, but they also aid our deputies in achieving a level of formal education not traditionally sought after in a law enforcement career. We are proud to see these programs inspiring and empowering employees to achieve their educational goals.
FORENSIC TECHNOLOGY RECEIVES A MAJOR UPGRADEOur Digital Forensic Unit analyzes and investigates potential evidence from electronic devices. This unit is responsible for processing nearly 1,800 pieces of evidence a year and helps solve significant crimes, including homicide, sexual abuse, child abuse and many others. In 2024, new state funding will provide an opportunity to upgrade vital equipment to better review evidentiary items. An innovative review platform will also be acquired to share valuable information more easily with other agencies.
PROACTIVE POLICING GETS A BOOSTOur Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) utilizes technology to proactively stop crime and aid our first responders as incidents occur. Due to their continued success, we have secured state funds for a significant expansion, allowing additional space and personnel for partner agencies to join our investigative intelligence operations. Accompanying this expansion will be further upgrades in technology. With access to more than 18,000 cameras, the team has provided live intelligence during more than 5,600 incidents.
As an organization, we are heading into 2024 with a firm plan for success. The future looks brighter than ever.
As the holiday season approaches, the Broward Sheriff's Office is filled with gratitude for the privilege of serving you. During this time of reflection and celebration, I want to share some of the remarkable achievements we have made throughout the year. In 2023, BSO has continued developing innovative solutions focused on the safety and well-being of Broward County. These efforts have made us an even more accountable, efficient organization and a true leader in public safety.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Our commitment to keeping the public safe remains our top priority. By utilizing advanced technology, our Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) can proactively detect potential threats and prevent acts of mass violence before they occur. Our success has been met with an increase in funding, allowing for the expansion of our technological capabilities, further elevating our proactive policing. Our other bold policing initiatives include the Burglary Apprehension Team (BAT) and Violent Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response (VIPER) units. Collectively, these units have brought violent offenders to justice, thwarted dangerous, illegal street racing and participated in various countywide operations to combat violence in our community.
SCHOOL SAFETY: In addition to the RTCC, we continue to implement new programs, bolster training and forge partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement to enhance school safety. This year, our efforts expanded to address a fast-emerging crime targeting our youth: financial sextortion. We partnered with Broward County Public Schools and the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to launch an educational campaign to raise awareness and prevent further victimization.
TRAINING AND PREPAREDNESS: Training and preparedness are paramount to public safety. As we approach the grand opening of our Research, Development and Training Center (RDTC), we will stay committed to elevating the training techniques, tactics and education for all our first responders and civilian staff. The 108,000-square-foot state-of-the-art training center will be like no other in the state and will serve as a model for other public safety agencies to follow.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: The innovative initiatives we've implemented this year have worked to continue enhancing our relationship with our residents and build trust within our community. Our Neighborhood Support Team is reaching out and collaborating with communities that traditionally shied away from law enforcement. The Park, Walk and Talk program has yielded more than 77,000 encounters with individuals in the community, building bonds of support and resiliency. This year, we had the privilege of investing $880,000 back into the community, supporting non-profit organizations focused on crime prevention, empowerment and creating lasting and meaningful change in the lives of countless individuals throughout Broward County. In addition, we've launched vital mental health programs to support individuals experiencing mental health crises and connect them to critical community resources instead of putting them in jail.
DIVERSITY: Since day one, I have promoted people from within the organization, which has undoubtedly contributed to our operational success due to the years of valuable institutional knowledge. This year was no exception. I was honored to promote additional women and minorities to leadership positions, further diversifying the organization to reflect our community. I am proud to say that today, BSO has the most diverse command staff in the agency's 108-year history.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY: BSO remains a beacon of accountability and transparency, exemplified by our actions. This year, we welcomed new members to BSO's Social Justice Task Force (SJTF). The task force, launched in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd and the deaths of other persons of color, is comprised of Broward residents, community stakeholders and BSO leaders, who take an active role in addressing community concerns. These efforts achieved transformative and everlasting change for all our residents. In addition, our Office of Inspector General, created in 2021 to ensure the organization runs efficiently, economically and responsibly, continued to investigate employee misconduct allegations thoroughly.
While our primary mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents, we have been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for the exceptional work we do to serve Broward County. It is an honor we do not take lightly. Learn more about our awards and accolades by visiting www.sheriff.org/SheriffTony.
I am proud of the remarkable strides we've made in 2023. As we move forward, we will continue to listen to your needs, elevate our training, enhance our capabilities, demonstrate transparency and maintain accountability to achieve our public safety mission.
On behalf of the men and women of BSO, I wish you a safe and joyous holiday season.
The Broward Sheriff's Office has recently garnered national and international recognition for exceptional performance across all aspects of our public safety operations. These awards and accolades indeed boost our morale but, more importantly, exemplify our organization's commitment to excellence in service.
HEROISM: This past year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) presented BSO SWAT operators with one of its highest honors: The FBI Shield of Bravery. These highly trained tactical operators pulled two FBI agents from the line of fire. Though the agents tragically sustained fatal injuries, the SWAT operators performed remarkably in the face of grave danger to save their lives. The award they received is rarely issued and is bestowed only for acts of exceptional heroism, well above the call of duty. The award is an unwavering testament to our training and preparedness. Seeing these dedicated first responders receive this supreme honor was one of my proudest moments as sheriff.
INTELLIGENCE: Proactive, intelligence-led policing safeguards our communities by discovering and stopping illicit activities before they escalate. The BSO Gang Investigations Task Force has been at the forefront of these strategic efforts, significantly reducing crime throughout Broward County. Their efforts earned them distinguished recognition as the Gang Unit of the Year by the Florida Gang Investigators Association.
PUBLIC SAFETY: The BSO Aviation Unit garnered recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police with the Leadership in Police Aviation Award and two awards for their use of tactical airborne forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to aid in the success of their missions. This team of highly trained, experienced professionals was also honored within our organization as BSOs Unit of the Year for the Department of Preparedness and Response.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Every accolade we receive demonstrates the significant progress our organization is making. BSO Sergeant Eric Girado was recognized as Investigator of the Year by the Florida Internal Affairs Investigator Association. Sgt. Girado's recognition is a strong endorsement of our commitment to responsible, transparent policing of ourselves. Since day one, my administration has focused on maintaining the highest standards of accountability, ensuring any allegations of misconduct are investigated fairly, thoroughly and objectively.
COMMUNITY: BSO's Neighborhood Support Team received well-deserved recognition as the Outstanding Crime Prevention Unit of the Year by the Florida Crime Prevention Association. The community initiatives launched by this exceptional team have helped at-risk youth, supported life skills and job training, and assisted our most vulnerable residents. The Neighborhood Support Team continues to build trust and respect with all our communities while keeping them informed on important public safety matters.
ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT: Recently, Dr. James Roach received the State Medical Director of the Year Award from the Florida Department of Health. The Raymond H. Alexander - EMS Medical Director Award is a prestigious honor and testament to Dr. Roach's outstanding contributions to BSO's emergency medical services. Additionally, the BSO Fire Rescue and Emergency Services Advanced Life Support (ALS) Team is standing out in the industry, placing first in two major ALS competitions: the Fire Rescue East ALS Competition and ClinCon. The contests place the team in multiple scenarios to test their medical and protocol knowledge, skills, critical thinking and decision-making abilities. These victories highlight the team's commitment to being the very best in EMS response.
PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS: Our efforts to communicate with and inform our community of critical public safety matters extend to a variety of digital mediums. This year, our Community Affairs Division and Public Information Office won three Telly Awards, a premier award honoring excellence in video and television productions. The videos awarded highlight important public safety information and, in one instance, assisted the BSO Cold Case Unit in highlighting a decades-old unsolved homicide case.
The achievements highlighted here share a common purpose — all are a product of our promise and commitment to be the most progressive, innovative, service-oriented public safety organization in Broward County. We are proud of each of these distinguished honors and will continue to push forward with the same vigor to reach even higher levels of performance and accomplishment.
An innovative BSO crisis response pilot program has been changing lives, ensuring the safety and well-being of our community and setting a new standard for effective mental health support.
Launched last year in Deerfield Beach, the BSO Co-responder Program pairs a licensed mental health clinician with a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained deputy. When a call for service involving a mental health crisis comes in, the team promptly responds to the scene together. The team further conducts follow-up wellness checks with individuals and their families who have recently experienced a mental health crisis, providing guidance, support and assistance with referrals for behavioral health services.
This combination of proficiencies enables us to provide enhanced de-escalation assistance and connect individuals with community-based social services and mental health treatment. When appropriate, we can divert individuals from the criminal justice system, ensuring they receive the care they need. We further provide deputies on patrol with timely and easily accessible clinical expertise as they encounter individuals with varied symptoms of behavioral health deterioration. This approach is built on the belief that helping individuals experiencing mental health crises benefits them and our entire community.
The results we have achieved over the past year have been remarkable. The positive outcomes include:
Daniel Gelpi is a licensed therapist assigned to the Co-responder Program. When he joined the sheriff's office in August 2022, he brought 25 years of mental health care experience. Working alongside Deputy Marcus Hall, a deputy in our Homeless Outreach Team, he immediately saw the benefits of this unique pairing. This method allows Daniel to provide quicker response and intervention for calls in progress compared to previous positions. Furthermore, he can engage in constructive discussions, allowing him to better connect with individuals who may otherwise be hesitant to seek behavioral health support.
"The value of this program is immeasurable," says Daniel. "Using the Co-Responder Model, law enforcement and mental health professionals are better serving the community."
Since its launch in Deerfield Beach, the program moved to Dania Beach for several months and is now being utilized in Cooper City. The idea is to move it around the county to gather data and information from a cross-section of the community to streamline and improve operations. As we continue to witness the positive impact of this program, we are eager to expand its reach and extend its benefits to even more members of our community.
Together, we are establishing a standard for empathetic crisis response that places the needs of our community members at the forefront.
Investing in our community is paramount to public safety.
Children's Harbor is a non-profit organization that serves as a home for kids without a family and keeps foster siblings together. While caring for these at-risk youth, this organization also guides them toward independence, building academic success, life skills and confidence through mentorship programs. The foundational values of Children's Harbor are aligned with our own at the Broward Sheriff's Office, and we are honored to have a small hand in their success.
I am proud to say through our Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) Program, BSO supports Children's Harbor and many community organizations like it. We choose these local non-profits on the merit of their mission to improve the lives of Broward County residents. The money we award comes from the seizure and forfeiture of contraband used in the commission of a crime. State law allows us to use these funds to reinvest into charitable 501(c)3 organizations that benefit our community.
Under my administration, the LETF selection process has been elevated to become a fair and impartial process. All qualified organizations have the same opportunity to compete for funding, and funds are distributed equitably. This year, we had the great privilege of investing nearly $900,000 back into the community by funding 88 different programs for selected non-profit organizations.
As an agency, we understand community stability is a core variable of public safety. We must identify gaps and service needs within our community and connect our resources with organizations that can serve as a force multiplier to have a greater impact throughout Broward County. Whether it's connecting with youth, providing crime prevention programming, mentorship opportunities, mental health assistance, veteran services, or academic development, we are committed to utilizing these LETF funds in a way that supports a thriving and prosperous community.
We will continue to evaluate and select new organizations whose mission is focused on the betterment of Broward County. To determine if your charitable organization is eligible to receive LETF funds or to learn more about the process, please visit sheriff.org or email LETF@sheriff.org.
Congratulations to this year's LETF recipients!
Do you know who your children are talking to online? A new cyber-criminal enterprise is on the rise, inflicting emotional anguish and financial damage on victims.
Sextortion is a cybercrime where predators use social media networks, apps or gaming platforms to establish contact and build relationships with their victims. Posing as a teen, the predator pretends to spark romantic interest the victim, who is often a teen themselves, and manipulates them into sharing explicit photographs or videos. The new "friend" then threatens to expose them and share these photos with their family and friends unless they send money.
Unlike traditional sextortion, where predators blackmail victims into providing additional sexual images, financial sextortion involves blackmailing the victim into sending them money. Despite the amount the victim pays, it is never enough, and the criminal's scheme continues.
Sextortion can affect anyone; however, predators mainly target young boys between the ages of 14-17. According to the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Commander, Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) Sergeant Thomas McInerney, "Teenage boys are particularly vulnerable because, unlike their female counterparts, they are less likely to report this type of blackmail and are often too embarrassed to tell a trusted adult."
The statistics are startling. New research by Snap Inc., owner of the social media app Snapchat, shows that approximately 65% of teen social media users said they or their friends were either "catfished," tricked into a friendship or relationship by someone with a fake identity, or their private information, including explicit photos, was stolen from their online accounts. One-third of those targeted admitted to sending explicit images.
The emotional damage inflicted by this crime can be devastating. Victims who fall prey to these criminals can experience severe emotional distress and humiliation. In 2022 alone, more than a dozen sextortion victims around the country died by suicide, and multiple victims took their lives within hours of being sextorted. Aside from the emotional harm, sextortion can also cause significant financial strain. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported the economic losses related to sextortion totaled more than $13.6 million in 2021. Due to the underreporting of this crime, the number of suicides and total financial losses are estimated to be greater.
BSO is committed to doing all we can to find and stop these criminals and bring them to justice. The South Florida ICAC Task Force, hosted by BSO, uses every means available to track down these predators and help victims recover their lives. Unfortunately, because much of the criminal activity originates outside the United States, the quest for justice is an arduous process.
In an effort to stop victimization, the best method is to prevent it from happening in the first place. The BSO ICAC Task Force is teaming up with Broward County Public Schools to launch an educational campaign to connect with students and provide vital information to help them in making informed online decisions.
Parents and caregivers should also do their part by monitoring what their children are doing online, checking who they are communicating with and having conversations regarding online safety. A list of helpful tips and important resources is available at www.sheriff.org/Sextortion.
By staying informed, vigilant and proactive, we can combat sextortion and help create a safer digital landscape for today's youth.
Juneteenth and Pride are celebrations borne of a tragic past but fueled by hope, each carrying the promise of progress. Although the histories of our black and LGBTQ+ communities are different, they are connected by the struggle for fundamental human rights. As we progress from our past to a more equitable society, the role of the Broward Sheriff's Office progresses with it, and our goal remains the same – to keep everyone safe. I continue to be committed to enhancing the culture of service at BSO. When our first responders can identify with our residents through similar backgrounds and experiences, they can better understand our community's wants, needs and problems and identify potential solutions. A diverse and inclusive public safety agency is essential to ensuring that all members of our community are treated with dignity and respect. Since taking office, I have prioritized elevating leadership and recruiting employees that better reflect our county. Today, the men and women of BSO make up an organization that is more diverse than ever in our 108-year history. Each of us brings a different perspective and uniqueness to our communities. Most importantly, the men and women of BSO are hired and promoted on the strength of their abilities and because of their desire and commitment to serve. We have also implemented programs and initiatives that increase and support equity, inclusion and understanding, such as our LGBTQ+ Liaison Committee, Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement (RITE) courses and the BSO Social Justice Task Force. As we incorporate these programs into what we do, they continue to develop who we are and what we stand for. The mission of each is to strengthen the relationship between our residents and our organization by creating mutual trust and confidence through community involvement and departmental education. We celebrate these achievements of social progress, but we do so mindful that there is still work to be done. As Broward County grows, we will continue to recruit the best and the brightest individuals committed to serving our residents. We will create and sustain a history we all have pride in. Click here to learn more about our innovative programs supporting equality at BSO. Sheriff Gregory TonyService Equals Reward
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. At the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO), we understand mental health concerns are public safety concerns. As a public safety organization, we seek to explore new and effective ways to address mental health issues that touch our community.
Responding to a call for service involving a person in crisis can be challenging. As first responders, we recognize the need to diversify our response capabilities to include a more collaborative approach that best addresses the immediate needs of the situation. Recently, BSO launched a law enforcement Co-Responder Program, which pairs a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained deputy with a licensed mental health clinician to respond to crisis calls for service. The joint response provides immediate advantages. The deputy and clinician can accurately determine the needs of the individual and identify opportunities to connect them to necessary community resources. The Co-Responder Program is currently in the pilot phase. Based on its success, we have plans to expand the program to other BSO districts.
Another program focusing on mental health is our Behavioral Health Licensed Therapist (BHLT) program operating under BSO's Threat Management Unit (TMU). BSO's TMU focuses on investigating persons who threaten to commit acts of mass violence and stop that from occurring. The BHLT team is composed of veteran therapists who work alongside TMU detectives to investigate these threats. When a threat is made, one of our licensed therapists is paired with a CIT-trained detective to provide professional on-scene threat and needs assessments. The cooperative investigation affords the ability to assess individuals for mental illness and substance abuse issues and link them with appropriate community providers who can offer treatment. Currently, our BHLT program has assisted with nearly 1,400 cases. Of the individuals they have interacted with, 44 percent have accepted services.
While our new programs and initiatives are making a difference, the cornerstone of our mental health work starts with our CIT program. CIT provides specialized training to help identify and more effectively engage an individual living with a mental health issue. The key is de-escalation. In situations where moods can shift, and actions can escalate quickly, the first few moments of contact are critical to calming individuals.
Our CIT-trained employees are placed where they can have the most significant impact. For example, all our school resource deputies are CIT-trained. In addition, our 9-1-1 communications operators undergo CIT training to identify which calls might require a specialized response. This training is critical on the front lines. About 55 percent of BSO's law enforcement deputies are CIT certified; my goal is to reach 100.
In public safety, no call is the same. Our diversified approach to handling these crisis calls allows us to help individuals in their greatest time of need and connect them with valuable resources. We will continue to explore opportunities that best serve the people and ensure the safety of Broward County.
Education and training are critical components to enhancing our knowledge and performance within the public safety profession. Since I took office in 2019, the Broward Sheriff's Office has made tremendous progress in training, education and preparedness. Today, I am proud to share BSO is a flagship organization for training in the State of Florida and the nation. With a 15% reduction in overall crime, we are seeing how our success is positively impacting public safety for the residents of Broward County.
BSO first responders train to maintain and enhance their ability to respond to any crisis. BSO has introduced over 80 new courses in the past four years with nearly 80,000 completed trainings. Further, we have hosted approximately 50 trainings for more than 1,000 members from local, state and federal agencies. With the completion of our new state-of-the-art training center in late 2023, we will continue to provide the most advanced public safety training in Florida.
Our commitment to training also encompasses academics. As an organization, we encourage our employees to pursue continuing education. We have partnered with universities to expand higher education and professional development opportunities. Since 2019, more than 200 employees have enrolled in higher education institutions, and over 50 employees have been awarded degrees, most at the master's and doctorate levels. We have also increased our participation in executive-level training courses.
As an academic myself, I welcome ongoing learning opportunities – especially when it comes to public safety. Currently, I am enrolled as a doctorate student at Nova Southeastern University, pursuing a Ph.D. in criminal justice and organizational leadership. In 2022, I was selected by the FBI to participate in the prestigious National Executive Institute Leadership Course. This tremendous opportunity is given to only the top law enforcement administrators in the nation, and I was honored to be part of it.
In addition to training and education, we have continued to focus on accreditation. Accreditation is awarded to agencies that meet and exceed professional standards. Today, BSO has become Florida's most accredited public safety organization, demonstrating our commitment to operating in compliance with industry standards and best practices. We currently hold 18 national and state accreditations, and these significant accomplishments are a source of pride within BSO's ranks.
I am proud of our accomplishments and successes over the past four years. We will continue to push toward excellence and never become complacent in our responsibility to provide the best in public safety to this community. To learn more about our accreditations and training programs, please visit sheriff.org.
Service Equals RewardSheriff Gregory Tony
Our nation has witnessed, once again, another tragedy that took place at the hands of five Memphis police officers. Incidents like this spark outrage and distrust from the people we serve and disappointment among our ranks.
When I entered the law enforcement profession, I did so taking an oath to serve and protect – an honor I hold with high regard, and one I implore among our ranks. While the actions of a few can tarnish the efforts of many, the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) has taken progressive steps toward preventing incidents like this from happening in Broward County.
Since becoming Sheriff, I've worked with our organization's leadership core to implement policies and procedures that identify areas of concern, address behaviors, enhance training and hold people accountable for their actions. The below highlights some of these initiatives:
At BSO, we understand the value of maintaining trust from those we serve. As a public safety organization, we will continue to evaluate policies and build programs centered around doing what is right, responsible, fair and equitable while being accountable and transparent with the community.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony
February 14 marks five years since 17 innocent lives were taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Our hearts remain heavy as we remember the victims of the senseless tragedy and offer condolences to all who continue to grieve. Yet, while the pain will never fully heal, we find solace in knowing their legacies live on through meaningful reforms and action.
In the years since, young survivors, family members and community leaders have rallied together, working toward reforms and improvements to keep our schools and community safe. There have also been significant changes in the way public safety agencies operate, none more than the Broward Sheriff's Office. When I first took command of this organization in 2019, I made a commitment to prioritize school safety. As sheriff, I instituted a two-pronged approach focusing on threat mitigation and enhanced training and response protocols to ensure the failures from that tragic day would never happen again.
Public safety is our primary goal, including preventing incidents of mass casualty violence. Our BSO school resource officers continue to undergo comprehensive training annually. Prior to assignment, each SRO must complete a 40-hour state-mandated FDLE course, a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training, and training for autism awareness, threat assessment and patrol-rife certification. Furthermore, all BSO SROs must participate in annual active assailant training as an additional requirement. In August 2022, SROs completed a full-scale active killer training to enhance their capabilities and knowledge to rapidly and effectively respond in the event of a school threat.
Additionally, we have expanded BSO's Threat Management Unit (TMU) and Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). Using cutting-edge technology combined with proactive policing, we can monitor and address threats in real time. With access to nearly 18,000 school cameras across Broward County, the TMU has investigated approximately 1,600 potential violent incidents resulting in more than 220 arrests, including connecting 730 individuals with mental healthcare services.
While we've seen incredible results with these threat mitigation improvements, we will never become complacent and will continue to prepare for the next threat. As one of the nation's largest sheriff's offices, we strive to be the most prepared and best-equipped organization in the country. Focused on training, we have significantly expanded our Training Division and instituted more extensive, real-world course requirements for all our sworn personnel.
Our evolution is partly a product of BSO's new Department of Preparedness and Response. Established in June 2020, the department centralizes BSO training under one umbrella, resulting in superior training and service to Broward County. Today, our comprehensive training approach has made BSO a flagship training organization and has attracted public safety professionals locally and nationally.
Our progress continues as we prepare to open the doors to our new, onsite state-of-the-art training center later this year. The 103,000-square-foot facility will match the agency's training needs, maximize staff capabilities and ensure a safe and effective training environment. The highlight of the facility will be the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Memorial Lobby. The names of the 17 lives lost on February 14, 2018, will be etched on the wall and serve as a daily reminder of the valued importance of training and preparedness.
With their memories close to our hearts, we will continue to work tirelessly to make our schools and community safer places to live, learn and grow.
To build something great, it starts first with a strong foundation. The Broward Sheriff's Office is constructed intentionally with each component dependent on the next for structure, strength and durability. The innovative programs and initiatives we have put in place are contributing to a safer Broward County and are paving a path toward continued success. Continue reading to learn more about some of these exciting new initiatives.
BSO CO-RESPONDER PROGRAMA cornerstone of our foundation is our commitment to helping individuals suffering a mental health crisis. BSO's new Co-Responder Program is an innovative approach to assisting individuals in crisis by pairing a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained deputy with a licensed mental health clinician to respond to calls for service. Their collaboration provides immediate advantages as they are able to more accurately determine the needs of the person or persons in distress and connect them to the necessary community resources.
BSO TRAINING CENTERCIT is one of the many types of training we have at BSO. In only a few years, we have raised the training standards for all our first responders and agency personnel. Soon we will be able to house all this training under one roof. Construction crews are making incredible progress on BSO's state-of-the-art training center. Once completed, the 103,000-square-foot facility will be the first dedicated on-site training facility in our organization's 107-year history. The training center will undoubtedly be one of the best in the state and mark a significant milestone that will bring us closer to furthering our commitment to public safety.
ADVANCEMENTS IN TECHNOLOGYAs our training becomes increasingly proficient, so too does our technology. Recently, BSO's Crime Lab acquired a high-tech instrument that better sequences DNA to identify people. The machine can help determine specific information about the person the DNA came from, including hair and eye color. This valuable new tool will aid in investigations of homicides, sexual assaults and acts of terrorism. It can also be used to identify human remains.
AWARD-WINNING SPECIALIZED UNITSLastly, I want to recognize our regional specialized units, which continue to grow in their accomplishments. These units work daily to assist all residents of Broward County and other local public safety agencies. Last year, BSO's Aviation Unit received worldwide recognition for its excellence, winning the 2022 Leadership in Police Aviation Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Teledyne FLIR PURSUIT award. In the first ten months of 2022 alone, the unit directed deputies on the ground to make nearly 1,000 arrests. The BSO Aviation Unit, and all our specialized units, such as K-9 Unit, Bomb Squad and Hazardous Materials Unit, respond wherever needed. These units have made our county immeasurably safer, and I'm confident they will continue to make great strides in the coming year.
This highlights only a few of the many new and exciting programs we will continue to build upon in 2023. We have a lot to look forward to.
Happy New Year!
What a year it's been! As we turned the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) remained fully committed to our core mission of providing top-notch public safety services while continuing to create new and innovative programs and initiatives. We returned to hosting in-person community events, solving decade-old crimes and improving critical training and educational opportunities for employees. Here are some of the highlights:
CONNECTING WITH THE COMMUNITYAfter two years of limited in-person community interaction, BSO showed up in a big way. We hosted numerous important events, including our Shred-a-thon and Operation Medicine Cabinet events, National Night Out, town halls and other community centered events. These opportunities continue to build mutual trust and understanding with those we serve. Check our community events calendar on sheriff.org for dates and locations of upcoming events near you.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPSWe awarded 76 deserving community-based non-profits a total of $930,000 in Law Enforcement Trust Funds (LETF). This was the most money given out in a single year under my leadership. These funds, which come from the forfeiture and seizure of contraband used in the commission of a crime, are given back to the community through organizations to further the mission of preventing crime and keeping our neighborhoods safe. To learn more about how your non-profit organization can apply for a future LETF grant, please visit sheriff.org and follow us on social media for future announcements on when applications are being accepted.
STRENGTHENING OUR 911 SYSTEMEarlier this year, BSO succeeded in obtaining additional funding from the Broward County Commission to increase the salaries of our communications operators. This increase makes us competitive with surrounding public safety call centers and helps recruit and retain these critical employees. If you have a passion to serve and want a rewarding career, visit us at jobs.sheriff.org or contact our Recruitment Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLOSING CASES"Gone, but not forgotten" is the impetus behind BSO's dedicated Cold Case Unit. Formed in 2019, the unit offers increased attention to unsolved cases, and this year the unit had incredible successes. In one instance, we identified and criminally charged a man known as the Pillowcase Rapist, who was responsible for many sexual assaults in the 1980s. In another, the unit solved the 1994 rape and murder of an 89-year-old woman. We also launched an exclusive Cold Case video series to uncover possible new leads and bring more exposure to these investigations. I encourage you to take some time to view the series on the Broward Sheriff's Office YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/BrowardSheriffsOffice. If you have any information about these crimes, please contact Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS(8477).
STAFF TRAINING AND EDUCATIONTraining and education are paramount for operational preparedness and excellence in service. In 2022, BSO partnered with local universities to expand higher education opportunities for all personnel and increased participation in executive-level training courses. As sheriff, I must lead by example. This year, I was selected to participate and completed the FBI's prestigious National Executive Institute Leadership Course. I am also currently pursuing my Ph.D. at Nova Southeastern University. As an organization, we are on a mission to become the most academically credentialed agency in the state.
This year, we finalized plans for BSO's state-of-the-art training center, broke ground and construction crews are making tremendous progress. Upon completion, the 100,000+ square-foot facility will be the first dedicated onsite training facility in our organization's 107-year history. It will elevate our preparedness and enhance our public safety services to the Broward County community. Follow our progress on our Facebook and Instagram, @browardsheriffsoffice.
As we head into the holiday season, you will continue to see BSO out safeguarding your neighborhoods and getting to know our residents. Stop by and say hello!
On behalf of BSO's men and women, have a happy and safe holiday season! We'll see you in the new year.
Sheriff Gregory TonyService Equals Reward
We are all only one major crisis away from homelessness. To understand this startling fact, we need look no further than the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian, which destroyed an untold number of residences and displaced thousands of people into emergency shelters. Many who went to sleep the night before the storm with a home, food, an income and easy access to physical and behavioral healthcare are faced with uncertainties of what's to come. It can happen that quickly.
The Broward Sheriff's Office Homeless Outreach Team works tirelessly to link displaced community members with the social services necessary to start anew and get back on their feet. Focused on providing care and assistance, the team has at least one specialist in every BSO district working full-time to support and assist these individuals.
Everyone's story is important. These individuals come from all walks of life with diverse backgrounds, passions and needs. Our Homeless Outreach Team specialists work to build rapport and trust and gain a better understanding of their situation. Sometimes, getting someone to accept assistance may take weeks, months or years, but we've had tremendous success by never giving up. Once someone is ready to receive help, we work quickly to connect them with appropriate services.
The men and women of BSO are committed to service – and aiding someone in need is an opportunity we don't shy away from. In September, off-duty Sergeant Mike Weiner stopped to check on a man sitting alone in his vehicle with a flat tire. Sgt. Weiner, who oversees BSO's Homeless Outreach Team in Pompano Beach, discovered the man's name was Hayward. A Vietnam War veteran, Hayward had been homeless for an extended period and had lost contact with his family and friends. With the man's consent, Sgt. Weiner contacted veteran services. Deputy Mike Francis, who received the 2020 BSO Deputy of the Year Award for his work with our homeless population, contacted a community partner to assist Hayward in getting a hotel room until the Veterans Affairs Division could make accommodations. Hayward has remained in constant contact with our Homeless Outreach Team. He will soon be moving into a Veteran Assisted Living Facility where he can stay indefinitely and receive professional care.
The upcoming holiday season will offer more opportunities to positively impact the lives of our local homeless population. Memories of special times with their loved ones can provoke interest in resolving damaged relationships. Our Homeless Outreach Team spends much of the holidays helping these individuals reunite with family and friends.
The team also takes this time to prepare for weather changes. This past January, South Florida endured the coldest temperatures in over a decade. BSO's Homeless Outreach Team, in partnership with the Multi-Agency Homeless Task Force, the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership and other community organizations, made an emergency purchase of blankets, socks and other necessities, which our deputies distributed to provide warmth to those in need.
Hope is the most important thing we can provide anyone in need. Once someone sees the possibility of recapturing their life, it rejuvenates the belief a successful outcome is attainable. As an organization, we are committed to identifying the needs of the community and meeting them however we can – for most, a little hope is all they require.
Service Equals Reward
Cold cases, by their very name, are crimes that remain unsolved. Investigating these cases takes patience, tenacity and innovative thinking. At the Broward Sheriff's Office, unsolved crimes will never be placed on the shelf or forgotten, and the passage of time will not delay our quest for justice.
In 2019, BSO created a full-time Cold Case Unit, whose primary function is to investigate unsolved homicides and sex crimes. The cases date back to 1963; today, about 350 remain open.
The trails of these investigations might have gone cold, but the pain for the families never goes away. The detectives investigating these crimes work tirelessly for the victim's loved ones, never giving up the search for that one clue that could help lead us to solve these crimes.
Making progress on these cases can be challenging; however, significant technological advances have helped immensely. Thirty years ago, DNA testing was in its infancy. Today, we can retest physical evidence to identify potential suspects and link them to a crime. Progress in fingerprint identification has also come a long way. Even minute, unique details of an individual fingerprint can be discerned by new programs, leading to faster and more accurate identification.
Last year, the BSO Cold Case Unit, working with the Miami Police Department, Brazilian National Police and U.S. federal agencies, tracked down the man responsible for the brutal murders of three South Florida women decades ago through DNA and fingerprint technology. The resolution of the case received worldwide attention. However, it is only one of the eight cases the BSO Cold Case Unit has solved since its inception.
To bring more exposure to these investigations, we launched a cold case video series to uncover possible new leads. The first episode details a North Lauderdale mother and daughter who were shot and killed in their bed in 2017. In another, a Pompano Beach-based American Airlines pilot was shot nine times at his front door in 2011. The latest episode explores the brutal murder of Jerri Emken in 1985, who was found dead at the Pompano Beach bar where she worked. While the murders remain unsolved, detectives hope the series will jog a memory and result in new leads bringing resolution to these cases. I encourage you to take some time to view this series on the Broward Sheriff's Office YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BrowardSheriffsOffice.
You, too, can help bring a critical clue to one of our cold cases. Broward Crime Stoppers is a vital resource for submitting tips resulting in successful outcomes. Even the most minor clues, something someone saw, heard or remembered, can result in a new lead. Anyone with information on unsolved cases is asked to contact the Broward Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at (954) 321-4200 or Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477) to report a tip anonymously.
This month, we honor the more than 500 deputies, firefighters and civilian employees, who faced significant danger, saved lives and performed exceptional acts in 2020 and 2021 during the Broward Sheriff's Office Annual Awards Ceremony.
The awards ceremony celebrates the best and bravest in public safety. These dedicated professionals were selected for their exemplary actions, outstanding achievements and service in safeguarding Broward County. The accolades for these individuals are well deserved, and I'll share with you some impactful highlights.
2020 Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year
Deputy Michael Francis embodies what it means to be a trusted public servant and leader. Each day, he diligently works to improve the lives of Broward County residents. From assisting families with legal aid to helping homeless individuals obtain shelter, his efforts have tremendously benefitted our community. It is an honor to recognize Deputy Francis as BSO's 2020 Law Enforcement Deputy of the Year.
2021 Unit of the Year: Department of Preparedness and Response
The BSO Aviation Unit serves as our eyes in the sky. Comprised of six pilots, six tactical flight officers (TFO), and two pilot-sergeants, this unit is called out for incidents anywhere they are needed at a moment's notice. From finding missing or endangered children to aiding in offshore water rescues, the unit is a proven asset for all of Broward County. In 2021, the Aviation Unit flew 3,127 missions totaling 1,711 flight hours; of those missions, 1,305 were requests from outside agencies. Their efforts resulted in more than 1,000 arrests and the recovery of 241 stolen vehicles. Excellence defines this unit, and I am proud to announce them as the 2021 Unit of the Year for the Department of Preparedness and Response.
2021 Volunteer Service Award
I've always said it takes a village to raise a child — and we take that to heart at BSO. Helping our county's children grow into responsible, civically engaged adults is one of our passions. Last year, BSO launched our summer L.E.A.D. Camp (Learning, Educating, and Developing). The innovative eight-week leadership program helps shape the lives of Broward youth ages 10-18. The success of our inaugural camp was made possible thanks to our incredible volunteers, including many BSO employees, who dedicated their time to managing the program and serving as mentors – encouraging and enriching the lives of Broward's youth. It is a privilege to award these employees the 2021 Volunteer Service Award.
These highlights are just a few of the tremendous accomplishments of the BSO team. In addition, we will award our most prestigious recognition, the Medal of Honor, to four courageous BSO veterans who performed extraordinary acts at significant personal risk to their lives. Additional accolades will be given to the detective of the year, firefighter of the year, communications operator of the year, civilian employees of the year, citizen of the year and units of the year, among others.
I invite you to join me as we formally honor these outstanding individuals at the 2020 and 2021 Annual Award Ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on September 14 at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. I hope to see you there.
Sheriff Gregory Tony
"We don't rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training." - Archilochus
Our nation has again experienced tragedy after multiple recent mass casualty shooting events in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods, CA and Uvalde, TX. As a community, we have learned about the value of training and preparedness after our own experiences at The Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Training is necessary for any profession but critical for first responders. Their safety and the lives of those they have sworn to protect depend on it.
I can tell you from experience no matter how mentally and physically prepared someone is, amid the emotion, adrenaline and urgency of the moment, the importance of training becomes immediately apparent. With more training comes increased discipline, readiness and clarity of purpose. Speed, efficiency and accuracy are improved when we repeat actions and rehearse scenarios. You can equip people with the best tools, but they also need the knowledge and ability to use them effectively.
Today, our in-house training programs are second to none. Since accepting command of the organization, the Broward Sheriff's Office has become the first agency in Florida to have a nationally certified active shooter training unit. We continually rotate our deputies through critical incident and crisis mitigation exercises to ensure they are ready for any incident. BSO's Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services continues to raise the bar by introducing specialized training tactics and skills to enhance performance. One such skill includes the ability to draft, which involves gathering water from a static source should a fire hydrant not be available.
We have also prioritized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for all deputies to engage more effectively with individuals experiencing a crisis or mental health issue. Currently, more than 60 percent of our Department of Law Enforcement deputies are CIT trained, which is more than double the national average, as well as 40 percent of our Department of Detention deputies. Additionally, 74 percent of all BSO employees, and 96 percent of all deputies, have completed the Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement course (RITE), which reinforces a bias-free workplace and teaches racial and cultural sensitivity and de-escalation techniques.
Tactical performance, readiness and professional development training are instrumental to preparedness in public safety and are offered at every level of our agency. We have established partnerships with top organizations and educational institutions to provide enhanced training for our sworn personnel and executive development for our command staff, managers and directors. Our comprehensive training approach has made BSO a flagship training organization and has attracted public safety professionals locally and nationally.
Our progress will continue. The construction of our state-of-the-art training center is hitting a fevered pace. Once completed, the 103,000-square-foot facility will house all our training initiatives under one roof and usher in a new and exciting era at BSO.
If you want to learn more about BSO and how we serve the community, we invite you to be a part of our Citizens Academy. The 10-week program combines classroom learning and hands-on exercises to experience everything our organization does to serve this community. Click here to learn more or visit www.sheriff.org.
Broward County is the statewide epicenter of a fentanyl epidemic ravaging the nation. During Spring Break, the deadly effects of the problem were made even more evident when thousands of college students flocked to the county, resulting in growing overdoses and hospitalizations. In one terrifying incident, six spring breakers from New York, including five West Point cadets, suffered severe fentanyl overdoses. The incident put faces and names on a crisis affecting every level of our society.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine which mirrors the effects of heroin. Just a few salt-sized grains can lead to rapid death. Whether used as a cheap filler in illicit drugs or sold as a counterfeit pill made to look like prescription opioids, fentanyl is the leading contributor to overdose deaths in the United States.
The statistics are striking. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, with about two-thirds of the deaths linked to fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. In Florida, Broward County leads the state in fentanyl-related deaths. In 2020, 798 people died due to accidental overdoses, with 611 cases involving fentanyl. That's a staggering 72 percent increase in overdose deaths involving fentanyl from the year prior. Though cases for 2021 and 2022 are still being analyzed, they, unfortunately, appear on track to set new records.
While this public health emergency is historic, the Broward Sheriff's Office and community partners are committed to ending the deadly drug plague through a three-pronged approach of enforcement, intervention and education.
BSO detectives and deputies continue to track down the dealers and distributors of this poison and put them behind bars. Earlier this year, our Strategic Investigations Division (SID) and our law enforcement partners took down members of the criminal street gang, Alwoods Gang. Detectives seized large quantities of illegal drugs during the operation, including more than 20 kilos of heroin and fentanyl.
The Broward Sheriff's Office also assists those who are struggling with addiction. For example, we have been instrumental in getting professional peer specialists deployed to Broward Health hospitals, so patients discharged after an overdose can be guided into appropriate treatment. In addition, BSO provides its deputies with the anti-opioid overdose drug, Narcan. BSO also coordinates a federal grant that facilitates the availability of Narcan to law enforcement agencies in Broward County.
Offering ongoing education to the community on the impact of illicit drugs is paramount to our efforts. As a member of the county's Community Response Team, BSO conducts community education programs and advises the public about the dangers of fentanyl. This team comprises nearly 100 members, including local law enforcement, treatment providers, epidemiologists, hospitals, and others working to combat opiate abuse in Broward County. In addition, to unify drug mitigation efforts between private and public sector organizations, I serve as the co-chair of Project Opioid Broward. The statewide initiative is a collaborative action by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Foundation and Florida Blue Foundation to address the opioid crisis.
Stopping this epidemic is a community effort, and we all need to work together to find solutions and save lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are places to go for help and resources. Call 211 or visit Broward Addiction Recovery Center and The United Way of Broward County for more information.
Are you looking to make a difference? Are you ready for a challenge? If so, we want you to be part of Team BSO!
The Broward Sheriff's Office is actively looking for driven and passionate individuals who wish to embark on an exciting and rewarding career in public safety. We are seeking to fill numerous positions within the organization, from detention and law enforcement deputies to 911 dispatchers and other civilian personnel.
We're looking for people who share my mantra: Service Equals Reward. That means always doing what is right and putting the interests of others and your community before all else. Working in public safety is much more than stopping crime and putting out fires; it's also about connecting with the people. I believe if we focus on providing the best possible service to Broward County, the rewards will come.
At BSO, we have positions for many skillsets and passions. One of our most pressing needs is detention deputies. As a detention deputy, you will help maintain order within our facilities and ensure the care, custody and control of detainees. Additional vacancies include law enforcement deputies and firefighter/paramedics. However, if your interests lie elsewhere, we have openings in the critically important non-sworn positions of Regional Communications Operators, Child Protective Investigations Section (CPIS) Investigators and treatment counselors, among many others.
BSO is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, citizenship status, color, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Veterans' preference per Florida law. Many of our current vacancies do not require a college degree, so we encourage everyone, novice or tenured, to take advantage of the employment opportunities available.
BSO is the most highly accredited sheriff's office in the state and one of the leading public safety organizations in the country. Aside from a rewarding career with a stellar organization, BSO offers competitive salaries, an outstanding work environment and exclusive benefits, including low-cost medical insurance, retirement pension and generous time off. There are also numerous opportunities for advancement, professional development and tuition reimbursement for furthering your education. Equally important, you will not just be an employee at BSO — you will become part of our BSO family.
For more information, or to view our complete list of employment vacancies, visit us at jobs.sheriff.org. Keep checking back as new opportunities are added regularly. If you have specific questions, please contact our Recruitment Unit at email@example.com.
Be part of the BSO family and make a difference!
First responders rely heavily on a group of unseen heroes daily to provide valuable information regarding incidents they are responding to. These individuals are often never seen but always trusted. Our communications operators are often the first point of contact for those in emergency situations; essentially, they are the true first responders.
Currently, 911 communication centers across the country face a shortage of essential workers. Unfortunately, this is also the case at the Broward Sheriff's Office. If you call 911, you may experience longer hold times. Here are some important tips that may help both you and our operators navigate the current shortage:
While there is a shortage of operators at our communication centers, this could serve as a terrific opportunity for you to embark on a new career. There is no greater reward than serving your community. In addition to a gratifying career, communications operators also receive competitive salaries, enjoy an outstanding work environment, numerous opportunities for advancement, and competitive benefits, including low-cost medical insurance, a retirement pension and generous annual leave.
Each year, our communications operators handle more than 1.2 million calls for service, and each one is unique. Dispatchers are responsible for providing information to responding emergency personnel and relaying crucial medical information to distressed callers while emergency services are on their way. This can include talking someone through the steps of performing CPR or offering instructions to help someone deliver a baby. While these interactions are often viewed as extraordinary calls, they are routine for our operators.
In speaking with a veteran BSO employee who has dedicated her career to working in Communications, Dominique Mathis stated, "The Broward Sheriff's Office has afforded me an opportunity to raise my two sons, travel, obtain a master's degree, and most importantly, grow as a person." Dominique has also assisted significantly in recruitment efforts by encouraging others who have a passion for serving to follow in her footsteps. "Go for it," Dominique says. "Save lives and be involved in public service. Don't hesitate; apply today!"
If you think you have what it takes to join Dominique and BSO's other remarkable communications operators, visit us at jobs.sheriff.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for this and other employment opportunities. You can also contact our Recruitment Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Heather Echaniz, a job developer for the Broward Sheriff's Office Day Reporting and Reentry Division (DRRD), remembers all the former inmates she has helped, but one client stands out. When she worked with the client, he was recovering from alcohol addiction and needed a job. This assignment was especially challenging because he was on the verge of relapsing. Nevertheless, Heather persisted. With her help, the client successfully fought his addiction and found suitable employment. His employer was so impressed with the quality of his work they returned to DRRD to find additional employees.
Heather works every day with a diverse group of clients, all with different needs, strengths and struggles. With her support, she works toward leading them down the path of success. "Many people do not realize how much getting a job means for these individuals," Heather said. "Making a difference in their lives truly makes a difference in mine."
Each year, thousands of inmates held in prison facilities throughout the state return to Broward County, and nearly 62 percent commit new crimes within three years of being released. BSO's DRRD is working toward changing that statistic by providing the reintegration support needed to succeed during the transition. The program is also designed to assist individuals within the Broward County jail system with community reentry. The program begins during an individual's sentence and includes an individual case plan. Upon release, the program focuses on removing the barriers to successful reentry and provides the support needed to restructure their lives and become self-sufficient.
The work Heather and the rest of the DRRD division does not only reduce crime; it provides hope and support for individuals trying to reenter society and reclaim their lives.
In recognition of Women's History Month, it is an honor to highlight Heather's great work. She is one of the many strong, compassionate and dedicated women of BSO who lead, protect and serve this community every day. Thank you for making Broward County a better place to call home.
As we enter Black History Month and honor the remarkable trailblazers who have helped make change in America, I am excited to share with you the long and fascinating history of the Broward Sheriff's Office at an incredible museum exhibit.
Beginning February 1, BSO has the honor of showcasing an extraordinary collection of memorabilia and rare, never-before-seen photos at the Broward County Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The exhibit, titled The Broward Sheriff's Office: A Century of Progress in Public Safety, takes you on an intriguing journey showcasing BSO's transformation from a small police force serving a modest farming community to one of the largest, most progressive and inclusive full-service public safety agencies in the country.
Curated by Deputy Joseph Williams, a 48-year BSO veteran, the exhibit is a fascinating walk through time. I am a history buff, and I found myself fascinated, learning new things at every turn. There is no doubt you'll come away from the exhibit with a better understanding and appreciation of BSO's rich history and how far we have come as a public safety agency.
The exhibit begins with our founding in 1915 and the election of Broward's first sheriff, local businessman A.W. Turner. Sheriff Turner led a small staff of men who bore no resemblance to the nearly 5,600 highly trained professionals who today serve Florida's second-most populous county.
From there, through an impressive collection of eye-catching memorabilia and photographs, we move forward in time, highlighting some of the cast of characters that makes BSO what it is today. We spotlight Deputy James Primous, who broke the color barrier in the 1950s to become the first Black deputy at BSO. We also celebrate the women who paved the way for other women to serve our county in critical public safety positions.
Our exhibit also includes an impressive array of patches, badges, uniforms and equipment to see how our look and technology have changed through the years. The display of remarkable photos captures the essence of each era. We also pay tribute to our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Broward citizens. There is so much more to experience, and I would encourage you to go and see it for yourself.
I want to close by offering a special thank you to the outstanding staff with the Broward County Library who helped make this possible. It is a profound honor to share our history with Broward County residents. I hope you enjoy the exhibit as much as I do.
Title: The Broward Sheriff's Office: A Century of Progress in Public Safety
Location: Broward County Main Library: Second Floor, 100 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Dates: Begins February 1 – April 30, 2022
January is an excellent time to reflect on the previous year. Looking back also helps as we move forward. We have accomplished so much in the past 12 months. While we continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated challenges, the Broward Sheriff's Office maintained its level of exceptional public safety services. Today, relationships between first responders and the residents of this community have never been stronger. BSO continues to be one of the most highly accredited public safety organizations in the state of Florida. These achievements are possible because of the men and women of this organization who are committed to listening, collaborating and working diligently to be the best public safety agency the public has come to expect.
As we enter the new year, our efforts will continue. Our mission in 2022 is to build on our successes throughout every corner of BSO.
Training continues to be a priority for BSO. We will continue to excel in our level of preparedness to respond to any incident or emergency, big or small. Our state-of-the-art training center is entering the next phase of its development. While the 103,000 square-foot facility will usher in a new and exciting era at BSO, the trainings listed below demonstrate some of the ways we continue to improve upon our training.
We continue to rotate all of our deputies through critical incident and crisis mitigation trainings. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of our organization's personnel have completed the Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement course (RITE). This training goes a long way toward increasing public trust by building upon our first responders' emotional and social intelligence. As a member of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association, BSO funded the RITE Train-The-Trainer Course to ensure all local enforcement agencies had the same opportunity to train their personnel. We will continue to climb toward our goal of 100 percent.
To more effectively engage individuals living with mental health issues, we have increased our Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for all deputies. Currently, more than 60 percent of our Department of Law Enforcement deputies are CIT trained, more than double the national average, as well as 40 percent of our Department of Detention deputies.
Lastly, at a time when public safety agencies nationwide struggle to recruit, we continue to fill vacancies across the organization, hiring 337 new employees in 2021.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
BSO continues to lead the way when it comes to accountability. Our Use of Force Review Board is proving to be a vital tool in our efforts to ensure our deputies are held accountable if they do wrong.
In 2022, accountability will continue to be a cornerstone of this organization. There is no room for error in public safety, but if a mistake is made, it is only fair to ourselves and those we serve to find out why it occurred and work toward a solution.
In addition, our mission is always to provide Broward County with the best public safety services in a fiscally responsible and transparent manner. There is no better way to see how your tax dollars are being spent to keep you and your family safe than reviewing our annual budget. You can view it here: https://bit.ly/3pD0DRW.
Community policing is not just a buzzword at BSO. We have found new ways to make positive, impactful changes in our interactions with the community. Our Park, Walk and Talk program continues to see great success with more than 24,500 positive public interactions in 2021. Our Neighborhood Support Team continues to build community partnerships to help better serve and meet our residents' needs.
Our willingness to listen and be open has resulted in a productive shift in community interactions – and a big part of that is the incredible work of our Social Justice Task Force. The task force provides a voice to community leaders and stakeholders to engage in honest and sometimes difficult conversations and develop solutions and innovative programs.
BSO currently has the most diverse, experienced command staff in the agency's history. In 2022, through our new internal leadership program, we will be working on succession planning and professional development, sharing the years of knowledge and experience with those in our agency who are younger in their careers. We intend to build BSO's next generation of leaders.
I am proud of the work we have done and look forward to the great work ahead of us. I hope you have a safe, blessed new year.
The holiday season is upon us. This time of year should bring you and your loved ones joy and cheer. Unfortunately, with all the distractions, shopping and traveling, criminals look for opportune moments to take advantage of you. At the Broward Sheriff's Office, we want to ensure you are safe from harm this holiday season. Here are some important safety tips to help protect you from becoming a victim:
PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
PROTECT YOUR HOME
If you are going out of town, consider signing up for BSO's free Vacation Home Watch Program. Deputies, a community service aide or volunteers will check on your residence for signs of a break-in or suspicious activity. To participate, call or stop by your local BSO district office.
Let's all do our part to ensure we have a safe and merry holiday season. Happy holidays from our BSO family to yours!
Deputy Aaron Moore had not yet completed the police academy when he deployed to Iraq in 2003. As an enlisted member of the United States Army National Guard, Deputy Moore prepared for war, but he encountered something different. He spent much of his time on foot patrol in Ramadi, a city in Central Iraq, interacting with Iraqi citizens and ensuring their safety. He saw that many were in need, and he did what he could to give them aid, even if that just meant listening. He ultimately spent 18 months in the Middle East.
When Deputy Moore returned to the United States, he finished the academy and became a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy. He realized his experience in Iraq helped him achieve greater empathy and enabled him to recognize the residents in his own community who needed help. He did his best to uplift and aid homeless veterans in his zone and found ways to provide shoes, book bags and other essentials to kids who needed them. When the opportunity arose to join the BSO Homeless Outreach Team, he immediately accepted. He is now an essential part of our Neighborhood Support Team. Most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped our agency distribute more than 300,000 boxes of groceries and 2,500 hot meals to those significantly impacted.
Deputy Moore is just one example of the sacrifice, patriotism and bravery of our military veterans and the value they offer to our community long after their tours of duty end. Hundreds of BSO employees are veterans of our armed forces, and many still serve.
BSO works tirelessly to support the veterans in our communities. Two recent examples are in mid-September, we learned a U.S. Navy veteran, who had recently found housing after living on the streets and in shelters, needed furniture for his apartment. Our BSO Homeless Outreach Team used their community connections to find an organization willing to help provide gently used living room and dining room furniture, as well as other household items. In addition, a team of BSO deputies acted as movers to transport the items from the donor to the veteran, bringing comfort and stability to a veteran in need.
We assisted a former Marine earlier this year who served two tours in Iraq and experienced some of the most dramatic and challenging fighting of the war. As a result, he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries, leaving him permanently disabled. BSO, along with community partners, worked on a home remodel for the veteran and his wife.
Central to the BSO ethos is the concept of service. It is what drives each of us to be better public servants and first responders. No group embodies this concept more than our military veterans. This Veterans Day, and every day, we honor the brave men and women who served to protect our freedoms and way of life. We also celebrate the efforts of those who wear the uniform and continue to serve.
Treats, ghouls and spine-chilling fun are just a few reasons why Halloween is one of the most anticipated times of year for kids. Unfortunately, Halloween can also be the most dangerous time of year for children. Nearly 4,000 Halloween-related injuries occur every year, including falling accidents, poisoning, burns and motor accidents. Although the festivities can be fun, we want to remind you of these important safety tips to help prevent real horrors from occurring.
When Children Are Trick-Or-Treating:
If Giving Out Treats:
Follow these cautionary steps to avoid a setback, and enjoy the fun of Halloween. If you are looking for a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, attend an outdoor Halloween event in a controlled environment with your kids. As a reminder, don’t hesitate to report any suspicious activity. If you see something, say something.
Have a safe, enjoyable and happy Halloween!
Service Equals Reward Sheriff Gregory Tony