Three years have passed since the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The memories of the 17 innocent lives taken from us on that terrible day live on in our hearts and our actions. Never again. Those two words gain more importance as time passes. As the freshman class from that year graduates and moves on to new and exciting endeavors, our work to safeguard our schools continues.
Training and preparedness are vital to that mission. As one of the nation's largest sheriff's offices, we strive to be the best equipped and most prepared organization in the country. Today, I am happy to say that we are exceeding standards and continuously raising the bar.
After a thorough, critical and honest self-evaluation, we have introduced numerous improvements and initiatives to strengthen our training and readiness. The Broward Sheriff's Office is the first agency in Florida to have a nationally-certified active shooter training unit. In collaboration with our federal partners, BSO has certified instructors in Active Shooter and Basic Tactical Medical Response, the FBI ALERRT Program and Incident Command Structure. And for the first time in BSO history, we have broken ground on a state-of-the-art training center.
These changes are significantly contributing to safer schools and safer communities. But it's just the beginning. I am excited to share some details about BSO's new Department of Preparedness and Response, a critical evolution that better addresses today's public safety challenges and enhances operational readiness.
Established in June 2020, the department centralizes our agency's training efforts and the deployment of our special operations units to maximize response capabilities. Previously, training had been fragmented, leading to inconsistency and lack of continuity in training protocols. By putting training under one umbrella, we optimize our capabilities, resulting in superior service to Broward County. The new department also provides for greater accountability. Whereas previous training records would only show someone attended training, each person is now independently evaluated on course performance objectives.
Another aspect of the department is the new Threat Intervention Tactics Analytics Network (TITAN). This intelligence-led policing unit works to mitigate terrorism and acts of violence throughout Broward County. Comprised of a full-time SWAT team — the first in BSO history — the unit provides high visibility and tactical security in critical infrastructure locations, including airports and seaports, throughout the county. Should there be a critical, mass casualty incident, this highly-trained unit will facilitate an immediate tactical deployment.
TITAN personnel also work to mentor others throughout BSO. TITAN responds to any incident that requires four or more deputies. The team reinforces training and helps establish proper procedures and protocols during small-scale incidents so deputies are better prepared and ready to respond appropriately during more critical events.
"Establishing Incident Command is vital during critical incidents," said Colonel Steve Robson, who leads the Department of Preparedness and Response. "The onsite training provides deputies with the opportunity to experience the type of response necessary should we have another incident like Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Everyone knows what to do and can perform as expected."
The department is also ensuring our first responders have what they need to perform their jobs. As other public safety agencies, government entities and healthcare systems scrambled to procure critical personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Preparedness and Response, in partnership with the county, is establishing a strategic stockpile of PPE for all first responders in Broward. This is another first time preparedness initiative created by BSO. As the county's lead public safety agency, we should never rely on state or federal partners to provide the equipment necessary to ensure our community's safety.
The department is aligned to ensure preparedness and accountability to address today's public safety threats. Their structure draws attention as a flagship model for other public safety agencies around the country looking to implement similar changes. I am proud of our efforts and will always work toward implementing best practices to safeguard this community.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony