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.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony