Public safety has always been my highest priority. In the eight months since becoming your sheriff, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has worked hard to address one of the greatest concerns of Broward County – school safety.
BSO deputies have undergone intensive training in preparation for any public safety threat. We are working together with the school system to ensure our schools are a safe place to learn for every child in every school. We have made changes, but we will not rest on our accomplishments; we will continue to find better ways to protect our schools.
In response to the recommendations of the MSD Commission, we introduced new proactive initiatives throughout BSO. We forged federal partnership agreements with the FBI, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security training divisions, focusing on active shooter and rapid response training. We have established a Threat Management Division and improved the way we gather intelligence and respond to potential threats. We now have cutting-edge technology to identify and investigate potentially dangerous threats to our community. An extension of that division is the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), which allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of important investigative information during a critical incident. We also have direct access to video surveillance systems that monitor nearly 10,000 cameras in all Broward County schools.
Recently, BSO partnered with SaferWatch, an innovative mobile app that allows users to report non-emergency incidents and crime tips in real time directly to BSO. The app covers more than 440 public, charter and private schools in Broward County and gives students, parents and teachers the ability to submit photos, videos, audio files or text messages anonymously. The information is immediately sent to BSO for appropriate action. It also provides our law enforcement districts with the ability to communicate important real-time information directly with residents. Whether it’s a crime prevention tip, safety alert, traffic advisory or other important information, SaferWatch alerts will be sent directly to your mobile device for immediate notification. I encourage all of our residents to download the free SaferWatch app and subscribe to the BSO district closest to them. Download the app at BrowardAlerts.com.
As the new school year approaches, I want to remind our community of some basic safety tips. When driving, approach all crosswalks in and around school areas with caution, and do not text on your cellphone – it’s the law. Observe the posted school zone speed limit. When walking or riding a bike to school, map out the safest route in advance, and always remember to use a crosswalk. For more back-to-school safety tips, please visit sheriff.org/community.
Although we have accomplished much these last eight months, we are just getting started. I will never lose sight of our mission: to keep our community – especially our schools – safe.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony
Few days in the year stir up more excitement and pride than Independence Day. The pageantry, parades, flags and fireworks symbolize deep-rooted patriotism for our nation, the sacrifices made to maintain our values and the pride we have in being Americans.
But, at the heart of it all are the patriots who made it possible. From the founding of this great nation 243 years ago, our strong and vibrant American fabric has been woven by the courageous men and women who took bold actions and immense risks to do what was right, not merely what was popular. Many lost their lives in pursuit of the American dream, and today we stand tall as a nation thanks to their sacrifices.
I love this country — and all the opportunities it has afforded me. I grew up in the birthplace of our nation, a short distance from Independence Hall in Philadelphia where our Founding Fathers signed two of the most important documents in U.S. history — the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. These individuals placed their lives on the line so that they, and future generations of Americans, could pursue the noble ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I am living proof of the American dream. In what other nation in the world could a poor black kid from the inner city defy the odds at every turn and one day hold the honor of serving as sheriff for one of the largest and greatest public safety agencies in the nation?
I owe a debt of gratitude — we all do — to those who came before us and fought for our freedoms. On Independence Day, we honor the men and women in uniform that valiantly put themselves in harm’s way, many making the ultimate sacrifice, to protect our American way of life. We also recognize those who committed themselves to justice and equality: individuals, such as civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony, who patriotically pursued equal rights at a time of great civil discord and whose actions are a testament to the American spirit. We must also give thanks to the everyday men and women — the mothers, fathers, teachers, mentors, factory technicians and fast food workers, who keep our country moving forward.
Patriotism resides in all of us. On this Independence Day, let’s not only honor the sacrifices of those who came before us, but also look inside ourselves as we carry the torch for future generations. Our patriotism is not what we show on the outside; it’s what lies inside each of us: the love of country, dedication to greatness, commitment to equality and pursuit of justice for all. Let us all strive to do what is right, not what is easy or popular. Our nation was founded on these patriotic ideals, and it is up to us to continue that legacy.
Service Equals Reward.
Sheriff Gregory Tony
“All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.”—Harvey Milk, slain LGBT rights champion
This month, we honor the 50th anniversary of the momentous Stonewall riots. The series of demonstrations did more to advance the cause of equal rights for gay Americans than any other single event in U.S. history and sparked a movement that continues today.
We celebrate the achievements and social progress of the gay community during Pride Month, but we do so with an eye toward the future — mindful that the fight for equality is never easy or complete. At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, we honor our LGBT employees in all areas of our organization.
Deputy Josh Sapp’s story epitomizes what we strive to achieve at BSO. The six year law enforcement veteran began his career at a police department where he was suspected of being gay and subsequently shown disrespect for who and how he chose to love. But when Josh started his career at BSO, he found a home that measures his value on quality of work and content of character, not sexual orientation. Deputy Sapp is currently assigned to the DUI Task Force, working with an important team of deputies to keep impaired drivers off our roadways.
As sheriff, I play an important role in protecting the rights of all Broward’s nearly two million residents. As Broward’s first African American sheriff, and as a person who has experienced inequality firsthand, it is a role I fully embrace.
I know the fight for equality is not a fight for any one group or individual — it is a fight for the rights of all Americans. Those rights are preserved in our Constitution and are part of the moral fabric of this nation. Yet, despite the efforts of many, there is still much work to be done to ensure equality and acceptance for all.
We must recognize that what makes us different is also what makes us special — and makes us stronger. Each and every one of us brings a different perspective and uniqueness to our communities. No one person or group of people is better than or inferior to another.
As sheriff, I instill in the men and women of BSO to be blind to color, to treat everyone as equals and never turn a blind eye to the injustices and inequities affecting our diverse communities. Everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual identity, deserves the same opportunities, the same level of respect and the same rights as everyone else.
Please join me and the men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office on June 15 in Wilton Manors for the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival as we celebrate the LGBT movement and equality for all. For more information, please visit our community events calendar at sheriff.org.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony
As sheriff, I hold an important responsibility to protect our community’s children and encourage their positive development. The incredible people I meet around Broward leave me optimistic about our county’s future.
I also know many potential obstacles await our next generation at every turn — and how even one small mistake could derail these young people from achieving their full potential. No one should have their future destroyed because of a minor, youthful indiscretion. Kids make mistakes and bad choices. It is part of growing up. Learning from those mistakes is what allows children to grow into productive members of society.
For many, however, these minor indiscretions create far-reaching consequences that can amount to a life sentence of lost opportunities. This stark reality is even clearer in struggling working-class communities and communities of color, which are historically disproportionally impacted.
As sheriff, I am promoting restorative justice programs that provide individuals who commit a minor offense with a second chance at leading a productive life. Instead of a permanent arrest record, which could severely limit opportunities in adulthood, a youth who commits a minor offense would enter a restorative justice program. These programs hold the offender to account, provide them with the assistance they need and teach them the discipline, structure, dignity and responsibility necessary to become productive citizens.
These programs are a proven success, showing significantly lower recidivism rates among participants. They also save millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on less effective juvenile criminal justice system operations. But these programs are not a mere slap on the wrist. Individuals who commit non-minor offenses and repeat offenders know they will feel the full force of the law.
Our efforts are also focused on proactive measures to keep kids from committing crimes in the first place. I was raised largely by my mother in inner-city Philadelphia and understand both the detriment of not having mentors and of how many in minority communities distrust law enforcement. At BSO, we are tackling both issues through a host of bold initiatives.
First, we are expanding our Law Enforcement Explorers Program, which exposes teenagers to positive values and role models. I will also be introducing the BSO Internship Initiative for individuals interested in a career in public safety. Too often, community members interact with deputies only at the worst of times. This program allows for a better understanding of our goals and mission — and allows us better insights into the communities we protect. In addition, because many struggle to pay for school, BSO is developing a criminal justice scholarship program to ease the financial burden. These scholarships are an investment in the future of law enforcement and our communities.
Finally, I am reexamining how the money seized from the proceeds of criminal activity is distributed to community-based nonprofit organizations to support important local programs. Programs that benefit from this Law Enforcement Trust Fund are vital to our mission of connecting with youth and providing programs, mentorships and assistance to them. In the past, distribution was woefully inequitable, with a select few organizations receiving the bulk of the money. I don’t believe in playing favorites, and we will work to ensure that all qualified organizations receive a fair opportunity to compete for funds and that the money will be distributed equitably to the most deserving.
I am humbled by the important role the Sheriff plays in the lives of our county’s children, and I pledge to do my all to ensure their future success.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony
As your sheriff, my number one priority will always be to keep our community safe. In a short time, we have made significant changes toward restructuring the agency and directing our efforts toward providing the highest level of public safety service the Broward County community expects and deserves. We have begun by implementing smart personnel changes, instituting a variety of significant training measures, introducing new crime-fighting initiatives, maximizing transparency and encouraging communication.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s success begins with its dedicated employees. The men and women of this organization collectively offer thousands of years of public service experience. There is a great deal of talent throughout this agency, and I have had the honor of promoting some of our most highly-qualified leaders. Our new leadership is strong. As an agency, we will operate more efficiently and effectively as we continue to focus on our mission of public safety. We are also bolstering our recruitment efforts to identify well-qualified individuals who are committed to public safety and are eager to serve.
Ongoing professional training is paramount to public safety. Our training division has been restructured, focusing on providing BSO employees with the education, training and tools needed to perform their duties properly. We are working toward establishing an on-site training complex to provide more intensive, frequent training necessary to address today’s public safety challenges.
We have established a Threat Management Division, which encompasses our Real Time Crime Center. This unified crime center will provide a means for law enforcement to utilize cutting-edge technology to proactively identify and investigate potentially dangerous threats to our community. We have been in direct communication with Broward school officials examining ways to enhance our school safety and security.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to evaluate our priorities and develop new policies and initiatives to improve our operations. We will be fiscally responsible and ensure we are allocating resources to the appropriate areas of public safety. Going forward, we will encourage two-way communication and open dialogue. New communication tools will be implemented to listen and connect better with the community.
I am proud of the strides we are already making to restore honor and confidence in this organization, and we are just getting started. Together, we will work toward achieving great success while prioritizing public safety. I look forward to meeting members of the community in the coming months. You can stay connected by following me on Twitter @BrowardSheriff or emailing me directly at email@example.com.
SERVICE = REWARD
Sheriff of Broward County
For years, I’ve kept a now tattered and coffee-stained note affixed to my computer monitor. It serves as a daily reminder for why I devoted my career to public service and how to conduct my life in general.
It’s a simple message. Just two words. But these small words had massive and profound impact on my life and are the guiding principle for every decision I make and for every action I take. The message: “SERVICE = REWARD.”
Far too often, we put attaining the reward ahead of service. We work because we want a new TV, a nicer car or a bigger house. We forget the higher purpose. To live the fullest and most productive life, we must each focus on providing the best possible service to others ahead of all else. The rewards will come later — often when we least expect it.
These words have been a driving force since I was a little boy growing up in inner-city Philadelphia. My mother largely raised me by herself — my father left when I was young — and she worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. Surrounded by gangs and drugs, I quickly understood I needed to work hard and stay on the straight and narrow to pave a path to success.
That led me after high school to move to Tallahassee with just $500 to my name, but with the dream of playing football at Florida State University under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. People doubted me at every turn. But I worked hard, proved the doubters wrong and achieved my dream.
After graduating from FSU with a degree in criminology, I put my belief in service into practice. In 2005, I became a police officer with the Coral Springs Police Department. From my first day on the job, I focused on providing the type of diligent and selfless service the residents deserved. That dedication helped me break through the color barrier to become that agency’s first black sergeant.
In 2016, I left the department and took a risk to focus full-time on a higher cause. All too aware of the numerous active shooter attacks in the US and mass bombing tragedies throughout the world, I relocated and formed a company to provide both the public and private sector with active shooter and mass casualty training. I’m proud of the work we performed and had planned to be there for years to come.
That all changed last year on February 14, with the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I headed back down to Broward from my new home in South Carolina to assist the families and community affected by the mass shooting. I sat through every MSD Commission hearing and studied all their reports to determine what went wrong and, most importantly, to find ways to prevent this type of tragedy from ever occurring again.
Because of that experience, I was honored and humbled when the governor afforded me this incredible opportunity to help protect the 1.9 million residents of Broward County. As sheriff, I’m here to serve. My pledge to you is simple and clear: I will always provide you with the best leadership and service I can. The reward will come in the form of a safer Broward.
Sheriff Gregory Tony
"As your new sheriff, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our great county and its residents once again. I know there are many of you who are eager to learn more about me—and I promise you will soon.
But first, February 14 marks the anniversary of the devastating mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Countless lives were forever shattered on that fateful day. Families and friends are still grieving and cry out for justice. Some have actively taken on the task of getting laws changed. I am truly heartened by how our community and its citizens have banded together to comfort one another and channeled that emotion into action.
No family, no community, no one should ever have to endure the pain of another Parkland tragedy. As your sheriff, I vow to make the safety of our schools and community my top priority—and I intend to hit the ground running. In the coming weeks and months, I will introduce new policies, initiatives and training to BSO.
I know that to prevent this from ever happening again, we must be proactive. We must harden our schools. We must have highly-trained armed school resource officers ready to protect innocent lives. We must have an efficient and reliable radio system. We must keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. We must make every school campus in Broward County free from the threat of violence. We must restore the feeling of safety for every student, parent and citizen of Broward County.
To the families of those who lost their lives – Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Scott Beigel, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alexander Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, Peter Wang, – we will never forget.
To the victims who were wounded and survived, and to all the families, friends and community members affected by this terrible tragedy, we will never forget.
At the Broward Sheriff's Office…we will never forget.
Sheriff Gregory Tony