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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.

Service Equals Reward

Sheriff Gregory Tony