Reporting suspicious activity or perceived threats at our schools just got a whole lot easier.
The Broward Sheriff's Office, in partnership with SaferWatch, recently launched an innovative new mobile app that allows users to report non-emergency incidents and tips in real time directly to BSO. The SaferWatch program covers more than 440 public, charter and private schools in Broward and gives students, parents and teachers the ability to submit photos, videos, audio files or text messages anonymously.
Whether it's a case of bullying, overhearing something of concern or witnessing an incident that gives you pause, the app provides a user an easy way to report important tips and information that may have in the past gone unreported. The information is then sent to BSO Criminal Investigations who will review the information and swiftly take the appropriate action. The more eyes and ears we have in the community, the safer we all become. So if you see something, send something through SaferWatch.
Another great feature about SaferWatch is the ability to alert users of an incident or event at any geo-fenced school in Broward County. For instance, if there is an incident at a school, all users of the app at the school and those who have chosen that school for which to receive alerts will be sent a notification through the app in real time.
SaferWatch is a remarkable new tool, but it is just one of many ways BSO is working to strengthen school security.
This year, BSO is ensuring that an armed school resource officer, deputy or guardian will be on every public and charter school campus in all BSO-patrolled cities, from the open of school to the close of school. Larger schools have more than one deputy to provide for additional coverage. BSO also provides added armed security on every public and charter school campus in BSO-patrolled cities during the beginning and end of each school day, when the most people are coming and going from campuses.
In addition, we are also working closely with Broward County Public Schools to assist with the hiring, equipping and training of their armed school guardians for schools in all Broward County districts.
We also know that ongoing training and preparation are vital in every profession—especially law enforcement. To that end, we have provided enhanced tactical training to all BSO school resource officers in the area of active shooter; initiated additional active shooter training for all sworn BSO personnel; and trained and equipped all school resource officers with smaller concealable long gun firearms to ensure they have immediate access in the event of an active shooter incident.
BSO is making heavy, but prudent use of the Risk Protection Order Act (RPO), or red flag law, which passed earlier this year. The law is a valuable tool to prevent gun violence by helping keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who demonstrate an obvious threat to themselves or others. Already, BSO has utilized RPOs dozens of times—more than any other county in the state.
We are working on the formation of a dedicated threat assessment division which will serve as a clearinghouse for all information related to individuals who potentially pose a threat to our schools and the communities we serve. These enhancements are just some of the ways BSO is working to help keep our schools and our children as safe as possible.
To learn more about SaferWatch, including how to download it, visit BrowardAlerts.com.
Sheriff Scott Israel
Broward County and all of Florida are safer today thanks to a new state law that gives law enforcement a valuable tool to prevent gun violence by helping keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who demonstrate an obvious threat to themselves or others.
Florida joined a handful of states earlier this year when it passed the Risk Protection Order Act (RPO), or red flag law, spurred to much-needed action in response to the tragedy in Parkland. This important law, passed with bipartisan support in the state legislature, allows law enforcement to remove firearms and ammunition from violent or mentally ill individuals while affording citizens their due process.
Already, this law is clearly proving its worth to law enforcement and the public.
Since the passage of the law, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has made significant use of the RPO Act. Already, BSO has utilized RPOs dozens of times—more than any other county in the state. In April, BSO violent crimes detectives arrested a Deerfield Beach man, who was pending trial for attempted murder, for violating a risk protection order and removed an AR-15, a .22 caliber rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a bump stock and numerous other weapon-related items from his home. The arrest is believed to have been the first in the state for violation of an RPO.
The process for obtaining an RPO is straightforward and puts the decision to remove guns in the hands of a judge. First, law enforcement files a petition listing the statement, actions or facts which give rise to a reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts by respondent. The petition is heard by a Judge within 24 hours to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to themselves or others in the near future by having in their custody any firearm or ammunition. If granted, the respondent is served with the temporary order, and they must immediately surrender their firearms, ammunition and concealed weapons license pending a final hearing.
The judge will set the final hearing within 14 days, at which time law enforcement must present clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to themselves or others by having in their custody or control any firearm or ammunition, or by purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition. If granted, the final RPO is valid for one year. In order to extend the order, law enforcement would once again have to present evidence to the court that the person is still a threat to themselves or others.
This is the type of common-sense gun measure for which I have long advocated. This law is intended solely to remove firearms from individuals who pose an obvious threat to themselves and others—not from law-abiding citizens. It balances public safety goals with the important rights afforded to citizens by the Second Amendment of the Constitution, as well as the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. In fact, even gun rights organizations have voiced their support for these red flag laws.
While this law is not the perfect solution to ending gun violence, it’s a gigantic step in the right direction, and we are all safer because of it.
Sheriff Scott Israel
Earlier this year, the Broward Sheriff's Office Regional Communications Division was selected by the Florida Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the world's oldest and largest not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to the enhancement of public safety communications, as their 2018 Team of the Year.
The team was selected for the hard work, professionalism and dedication they displayed during the shooting at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport on January 6, 2017 where they deftly managed 135 calls from panicked citizens, witnesses, airport employees, family members and victims that flooded the regional 911 system during the chaotic moments of the shooting. Operators provided anxious callers with guidance, comfort and empathy.
Simultaneously, hundreds of officers and other first responders were deployed countywide to assist with the event from approximately 31 municipalities in Broward County. Off-duty Regional Communications Division staff promptly responded to assist during the incident.
The honor reaffirmed what I have known since we launched Broward County's consolidated dispatch system in October 2014: it is not only working—but it is exceeding expectations and providing some of the best 911 service in the country.
Residents and visitors alike are receiving more efficient and effective responses since we merged eight public safety answering points (PSAPs), and 29 cities transitioned into just three regional PSAPs located in Coconut Creek, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines. These three regional sites now operate under common call taking and dispatch protocols and common technology platforms.
The effort was a gigantic undertaking but has proven to be a vast improvement over the previous fragmented system. Each day, our call takers handle roughly 7,500 calls— that's a staggering 2.5 million calls a year. But they handle the load with professionalism and unmatched dedication.
Today, we are more efficient and effective. Under the old system, emergency responses were often hindered and people's lives put at risk because calls would be directed to the wrong answering center and would need to be transferred. The new system has virtually eliminated the need to transfer calls.
Creation of the regional system also streamlined and reduced staffing levels by more than 100 employees. And we increased accountability for staff through transparency and a countywide ticket tracking system to track concerns, complaints and trends. As a result, total call processing times were reduced by approximately 30 seconds, and the vast majority of 911 emergency calls are now answered in 10 seconds or less. In fact, a recent study shows we produce some of the quickest answering times and exhibit one of the best performance levels of any large 911 center in the nation.
This, of course, would not be possible without the dedicated 911 operators and dispatchers. They truly are the unsung and unseen heroes of the agency, tirelessly navigating stressful and chaotic circumstances to serve as the critical link and vital lifeline between our community and emergency services. These workers undergo months of intensive training to learn the ins and outs of public safety.
I've long known their importance and value to public safety, and I'm glad they are finally receiving the outside recognition they earned and very much deserve.
Sheriff Scott Israel
It's not easy work, but there is no other career in the world as rewarding as public safety. Countless individuals across the country and here in Broward County diligently serve in public safety, dedicating their lives to keep our communities safe and making a difference daily, both big and small.
And now you can, too!
The Broward Sheriff's Office is looking for a few good women and men to join our team as law enforcement deputies. At BSO, serving and protecting is not just a job description; it is a way of life. These deputies serve in numerous positions, including road patrol deputy, criminal investigations detective and in our special units. And as the largest fully accredited public service agency in the country, there are numerous career advancement opportunities as well.
Make no mistake. Serving as a law enforcement officer comes with tremendous responsibility. At BSO, your job is more than just stopping crime – it is also connecting with our communities and forging lasting relationships with the diverse communities we serve. You will be equipped with rigorous training to handle every scenario with professionalism but also be required to bring a solid work ethic, sound reasoning and temperament and embrace BSO's commitment to community policing, accountability and transparency.
We are also seeking to fill the ranks in our Department of Detention. Each day, these men and women are charged with maintaining order and discipline among detainees in our jails — the 12th largest jail system in the country — and also with ensuring the safety of the detainees, the public and other law enforcement and detention personnel. As rehabilitation is a top priority at BSO, detention deputies also have the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of detainees because of their close and frequent interactions with prisoners.
Want to be part of BSO, but not sure becoming a sworn officer is the best fit for you? We also are looking for more individuals to join our team in the critically important positions of E911 Communications operators and Child Protective Investigations Section (CPIS) investigators. Communications operators are the lifeline between the community and first responders, and our CPIS investigators dedicate their careers to ensuring our community's children are safe and secure.
Aside from the rewarding work you will perform, BSO also offers competitive salaries, outstanding work environment and competitive benefits (including low-cost medical insurance, retirement pension and generous time off) plus numerous opportunities for advancement. Equally important, you are not just an employee at BSO — you are part of our BSO family of over 5,600 employees.
You could be part of our BSO family. Join me and the rest of the BSO team by visiting jobs.sheriff.org.
Sheriff Scott Israel
By air or by sea, and on the ground, the Broward Sheriff's Office's specialized units are devoted to keeping all of the county's 1.9 million residents and millions of annual visitors safer. In fact, these countywide units, when working in tandem with our dedicated men and women on the streets, provide exceptional service to all the cities in Broward County – not just those policed by BSO.
I'd like to tell you about a few of these units and how they serve our communities.
We've all seen police forensics shows like "C.S.I." and how they amazingly use DNA and other forensic evidence to catch a criminal within an hour-long episode. But, in real life, this sort of work takes weeks or even months. This meticulous work requires patience and precision, qualities the roughly 50 dedicated professionals in BSO's Crime Laboratory display every day. In fact, our crime lab is a nationally-recognized leader in the forensic science community as the first sheriff's office crime laboratory to become internationally accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
BSO's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team has been bravely serving Broward for more than four decades. During that time, SWAT has responded to some of the county's most dangerous law enforcement situations, including barricaded subjects and hostage-taking situations, violent felon search/arrest warrant operations and other tactical operations. Today, nearly 40 deputies, nine county firefighter/paramedics and 12 negotiators staff this team.
It also takes a special type of person to run toward a potential explosive and attempt to defuse it. But that's exactly what our BSO Bomb Squad technicians do. This unit coordinates the investigations of situations involving the use of bombs, explosives and mass-destruction weapons and at post-blast explosion scenes. The unit's highly-trained and skilled members are equipped with state-of-the-art tools including two custom-designed bomb disposal response vehicles, a full-containment explosive vessel with transport, the newest remote bomb disposal robot and two additional remote control robots.
BSO must also give thanks to the furry friends in our K-9 unit who help sniff out crime. These loyal canine deputies of various breeds are specially bred and trained for a variety of tasks. Some canines track and apprehend criminals, while others search for and find missing persons. Other BSO dogs sniff out narcotics and bombs and even find contraband smuggled into our jails. Today, we have 55 dogs assigned throughout the agency available around the clock for immediate response.
Our countywide units are not limited to the land. The BSO Marine Unit provides critical help in our waterways, and our Aviation Unit helicopters are our eyes in the sky, helping to locate and apprehend violent criminals. They also routinely perform emergency medical transports and assist with rescue missions in the Florida Everglades.
And all of these services – which are called "regional services" – are made available upon request to help assist law enforcement departments in every corner of Broward.
At BSO, our tasks may be varied, but our mission is the same: to serve and protect all of Broward.
Sheriff Scott Israel
April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time where we shine an important spotlight on the developmental disability that affects many in this country and around the world. Though the exact causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are still uncertain, doctors, experts and activists are feverishly working on raising awareness and aiding in research, diagnosis and treatment of the complex disorder.
At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, we are always working on providing special attention to individuals with ASD and other special needs by instituting proactive programs and initiatives—and undergoing special training aimed at assisting this special population.
One of my personal favorite programs is the Autism in Flight program, which provides a full airport experience in a relaxed setting for individuals about to embark on their first flight. Children and their families check in, go through security, walk the terminal to their gate, board a jetBlue plane and experience a “take-off.” It truly is a special experience.
BSO is also in the community at other special events. During the annual Autism Awareness Day, people affected with autism are given an opportunity to learn about the resources available to them, meet with our first responders in full uniform and see their emergency vehicles and equipment in a non-threatening environment. We’re also huge supporters and participants in the annual Surfers for Autism event, where hundreds of children with autism and developmental delays receive the chance to surf in a safe and secure environment.
Yet BSO’s support for this community goes even further. I’m thrilled to have supported historic legislation my good friends Ellen Kleinert and husband Jerry Cohn tirelessly worked to get passed into Florida law: the Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act. It is named after Kleinert’s autistic son and is the first of its kind in the country. The law requires a mental health expert be present during police interviews of developmentally disabled victims, witnesses or suspects. It also makes it easier for authorities to know who may need such assistance by creating a voluntary new designation on state identification cards.
Finally, I’m excited to share one of BSO’s biggest and most innovative initiatives. In our ongoing efforts to provide better service and help keep individuals with special needs safer, we recently launched the BSO Special Needs Program. It gives parents or caregivers of individuals with special needs an opportunity to opt in to the program by voluntarily providing biographical information, including a description of the individual’s diagnosis and behavior, which will be captured to improve interactions with first responders.
The program will help 911 communications operators convey the critical information to the responding deputy so they can respond more effectively and efficiently. This information can help dispel any concern should the person seem aloof, uncooperative or even in crisis—leading to more positive outcomes. The program is currently in a pilot phase but will ultimately be rolled out countywide.
If you’d like to learn more about our efforts, please visit us on our community resource page at sheriff.org.
Sheriff Scott Israel
This month, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Annual Awards Ceremony will honor more than 100 deputies, firefighters and civilian employees who faced great danger, saved lives and performed exceptional acts last year. These extraordinary men and women are the best and bravest in their fields and exemplify the risks willingly shouldered by those working in public safety.
Heroic acts are often a part of the job. Without hesitation, these award recipients place their lives at great risk day in and day out to ensure the betterment of our community, but they do far more than just protect the public from danger. They work tirelessly to make Broward a better place to live. They are the moral fiber of this county. They protect us. They keep us safe. They help us.
Without a doubt, this ceremony is one of my favorite annual events. It is an opportunity to celebrate exemplary achievements and heroic efforts. But, equally important, it is also a chance to acknowledge that hard work and selflessness does not go unnoticed. Far too often around our nation, news reports focus on the negative stories – the few bad apples – and not the vast majority of great people that do an amazing job daily. Stories about individual misdeeds typically get airtime. However, the unglamorous, quiet – yet important – efforts we do daily, like helping a homeless person, or finding an Alzheimer’s patient who was lost, or calming a panicked person who is calling 9-1-1 desperately in need of help, or saving a heart attack victim, never merit news coverage. Yet those small daily deeds make meaningful differences in so many real lives.
As a former high school football coach, I see those who work in public safety as being like an offensive lineman. Much like an offensive lineman works the trenches to ensure the safety of the quarterback and are key cogs in a functioning offense, so too are the public safety officials who put everything on the line to safeguard our communities and ensure a prosperous society. Both, however, often are only noticed when there’s a breakdown – not for their countless successes they achieve.
So while it is important to celebrate the achievements of the men and women of BSO and reinforce their importance to the agency and community, it is also equally important for us to share their heroic and inspiring stories with the public. It is only through the mutual respect and better understanding of our job and the people behind our badges that we as a community can build upon these successes.
It is an absolute honor to work with such an unselfish and giving community who dedicate their lives to keep our communities safe, and I’m excited to honor their achievements. I invite you all to join me in the celebration of BSO’s best and to meet the real men and women who make BSO the finest public safety agency in the nation.
For more information about the event, please visit us online at sheriff.org. I hope to see you there.
Sheriff Scott Israel
Providing top-quality service to the residents of Broward County is one of the top priorities of the Broward Sheriff's Office. Whether it's a prompt response to a 911 emergency call or the many ways our first responders go above and beyond to provide helpful support, we are constantly striving to make the lives of those we serve better, safer and easier.
As part of our ongoing efforts, BSO is launching a much-improved sheriff.org. At BSO, we are always at the forefront of emerging trends and technologies. That is why we were one of the first public safety agencies in the nation to maintain a true online presence. Through the last two decades, many residents have come to rely on sheriff.org and our online social media pages for a variety of services and resources. Now, we are getting even better!
With many improvements, the new sheriff.org is keeping a lot of the features you love, but we redesigned the website to make it cleaner to navigate and easier on the eye – and we added a plethora of beautiful photographs. More importantly, we are making it far more user-friendly and easier to find what's important to you.
With one click, visitors to our website can do everything from requesting a report, to filing a commendation or complaint. You can also visit our crime mapping feature that allows you to track where crimes are occurring nearby (and keep tabs on registered sex offenders and predators living in your neighborhood). We are also making it far easier to find information about your local BSO district offices, civil procedures and our jails.
Looking for a job? Look no further than the top of the homepage to discover all the amazing opportunities available at BSO and even apply online from the comforts of your own home. And, yes, we are hiring.
Our commitment to connect better with the diverse communities we serve continues through our webpage, where we added features intended to unite and strengthen Broward. Now, users can easily keep on top of upcoming BSO events, such as shred-a-thons and grocery giveaways that visitors might not otherwise know about. You can find our calendar of events featured prominently on our homepage. We also added a tab on the website where you can read about BSO's signature community outreach initiatives, including Uniting Broward, body-worn cameras, community policing and civil citations.
Of course, protecting our communities and keeping us safe remains our primary mission. Through our new community resources link, we are constantly adding educational brochures and information on a variety of public safety topics, including how best to protect yourself from identity theft, sexual assault, burglary and bullying. You can also find vital public safety tips and messages in the featured video section on our homepage.
I am thrilled at all the amazing improvements we are making online and invite you all to visit and explore our improved sheriff.org website.
Sheriff Scott Israel
Aretha Franklin said it best when she sang about the importance of being shown a little respect. We all know the foundation of a strong relationship is built on this important quality. It's even more important when it comes to law enforcement and how we interact with people in all the diverse communities we serve.
That's why I'm thrilled to announce that the Broward Sheriff's Office is launching the Respect Campaign. Beginning this month, and running throughout the year, our Respect Campaign will highlight all the ways BSO's dedicated men and women in law enforcement, detention, fire rescue and civilian positions build stronger community connections and the many ways we work to get even better.
Throughout the year, we will share stories through our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as on our website at www.sheriff.org, showcasing the interactions and people who make a huge difference in ways both big and small.
Stories that highlight BSO's respect for our profession and respect for the communities we protect. The people who go above and beyond. And the daily interactions with our community's children – and the acts of compassion that go a long way – in ensuring the safety and well-being for all.
We're also taking the opportunity to look at how we can improve and become even more responsive to the needs of Broward County's two million residents and many visitors. As part of the effort, we developed a new internal training video that stresses the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect – and how it produces lasting, positive benefits. We're also seeking feedback from members of our community to help us get even better. After all, listening—truly listening—to others and using their views as meaningful guidance is one of the most sincere forms of respect.
This Respect Campaign is the next advancement in our Uniting Broward initiative, BSO's key community outreach effort which actively unites Broward's vibrant and diverse community groups across racial, religious, ethnic, cultural and sexual orientation boundaries, to make Broward a better and safer place to live, work and raise a family.
As a law enforcement officer for nearly 40 years, I quickly learned that treating everyone with the kindness and respect they deserve produces massive results. That's why I've made community policing a cornerstone of my belief system and have made it a priority during my time at BSO.
Far too often we focus only on the small number of bad people, when we should also be focused on the 99 percent who are good people. These are the people that can and will make a difference, and help us make Broward even safer. If you treat people with respect, they are more likely to approach law enforcement with tips or seeking help for a problem before it spirals out of control and becomes a public safety issue.
So to quote Aretha Franklin, I'm excited for you to find out what a little respect means to me … and to BSO.
Sheriff Scott Israel
When disaster strikes, the Broward Sheriff's Office is ready, willing and able to lend a helping hand to those in need at a moment's notice—no matter where it occurs. From the heart of Broward to the people in need in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico, BSO was there to assist in whatever manner was needed during this deadly and catastrophic 2017 hurricane season.
Ensuring the safety and security of Broward residents and visitors is always BSO's top priority, even in the face of battering winds and flooding rains. The hardworking men and women of this agency gave all they had to keep Broward safe this hurricane season. However, we also answered the call for help from our neighbors and friends who were in desperate need of assistance. We didn't do this because we had to. We did because it's the right thing to do. Public safety is about helping out those in need, even if disaster doesn't touch us personally. And as this devastating hurricane season showed, there were many far less fortunate than us here in Broward that required the kindness and assistance of outside help.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma in September, BSO sent a unit of BSO deputies, specialists and communications equipment to Monroe County, where some of the worst damage from the hurricane occurred. The Communications on Wheels (COW) vehicle we set up there allowed first responders in the Keys to coordinate their relief efforts and assist the storm-weary residents of Monroe County.
Our civilian dispatchers also answered the call for help. Monroe County, from the Everglades to Key West, received some of Irma's nastiest winds and weather and needed a lot of help recovering. They asked for dispatchers to help field some of the emergency calls they were receiving, and we sent some of our finest.
Seventeen of our fire rescue personnel also made the trip to the Florida Keys to assist residents, whose way of life forever changed because of the storm. In one instance, a weakened and thirsty Key Deer was given a second lease on life, thanks to a member of BSO Fire Rescue who hand-fed the animal four bottles of water and helped it recover. BSO also sent a contingent of fire rescue personnel to Puerto Rico to assist local authorities in handling the devastation caused by powerful Hurricane Maria.
None of this would have been possible, however, had it not been for the amazing residents of Broward. I am so incredibly proud of you. I was amazed by your incredible acts of kindness and selflessness, and impressed by how you followed the direction of public safety professionals to the best of your abilities, keeping your families safe during the worst of it. Property and possessions are replaceable; lives are not. Your response made Broward safer and allowed us to help those in dire need elsewhere.
Here's hoping for a quiet final month in the tropics. But know we are ready to assist anyone who needs us at the drop of a dime. When people are in trouble, we try to help. We are BSO, and that's what we do.
Sheriff Scott Israel
In August, BSO had the great honor of hosting the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) International Conference. This opportunity to share and exchange best practices for mental health treatment with police departments around the world was a testament to how far we've come as an agency.
Since police officers are typically the first responders to psychiatric emergencies, I made it a priority that our deputies receive training to handle mental health incidents more capably.
If someone falls and breaks a bone, the next step is immediately clear: a trip to the emergency room. If someone suffers a psychotic break, a solution is not as easily prescribed.
We were recently called to the home of a 25-year-old man who had become enraged and verbally aggressive, threatening his mother. She had retreated to her vehicle and locked the doors. The son followed, pulling the driver's side handle repeatedly with force, breaking it off. He then started punching the car window. Fearing for her safety, the mother drove to the community gatehouse and implored the security guard to call 9-1-1.
Sadly, the mother knew the routine. She supplied the necessary information - location of the house, details of the incident, the age and height of her son and what he was wearing. She also communicated that her son had been diagnosed with psychotic behavioral issues, was not being medicated and may have been carrying a knife. The mother suggested he needed to be Baker Acted, a process under Florida law which allows an individual to be taken to a medical facility for involuntary examination and initial treatment.
Fortunately, the mother also knew to specifically ask for a CIT-trained deputy to interact with her son.
BSO's CIT deputies receive specialized training, which helps them identify and more effectively engage an individual suffering a mental health crisis. Based on the nationally recognized "Memphis Model," the course was established nearly 30 years ago following the death of a man with mental illness who charged police with a knife. The model provides a more intelligent, compassionate and safer approach to these types of incidents. One of the keys is de-escalation. In situations where moods and actions can shift and escalate quickly and unpredictably, the first few moments of verbal contact are critical to calming individuals.
Our 9-1-1 operators, who also take a CIT course, quickly assess incoming calls and determine the emergency response required. In this case, Deputy Jeffrey Smith, a CIT-trained, 34-year veteran of the Broward Sheriff's Office, was dispatched.
Initiating conversation, he immediately noticed the young man was confused, incoherent and rambling. Deputy Smith recognized the signs and symptoms of mental illness and knew professional treatment was required.
"You talk to people in an upset state as best as you can without getting hands-on," Deputy Smith says, who engaged the young man verbally for over a half hour before getting him safely out to a vehicle.
On the ride to the hospital, they continued the conversation, exemplifying the good rapport and positive relationship the two established on scene and reinforcing why CIT-trained law enforcement professionals like Deputy Smith are essential to effective policing. If this was in a community without CIT-trained police officers, the young man might have been confronted by an officer who did not know how best to approach the situation. It may have escalated, possibly ending in arrest or something far worse.
Since taking office more than four years ago, I directed that every one of our deputies become CIT-trained. Before I took office, there were only 173 active deputies with this specialized training in our entire agency. Today, roughly 700 of our active deputies are CIT-trained. And, within the next few years, we will reach our goal of having all BSO deputies complete the CIT training program. This will better allow us to serve those in our community who struggle every day with mental illness.
Sheriff Scott Israel
The unimaginable horrors of the 9/11 terror attacks remain as painful today as they did that fateful Tuesday morning 16 years ago. None of us will ever forget where we were as the chaos and carnage unfolded—and nearly 3,000 innocent souls perished—before our eyes. The heinous assault forever altered the course of history and our lives.
Yet we rose from the ashes and smoldering remains a stronger nation—a nation which courageously channeled its fear, anguish and anger into constructive action that has produced positive results for our country and at home here in Broward County.
Though we can never and should never claim victory in the war against terror, Broward is safer today as a result of the efforts by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Since 2001, BSO has undergone transformational changes and has forged a strong spirit of cooperation with numerous law enforcement entities. Today, we’re working smarter and training harder as part of our relentless mission to keep residents and visitors out of harm’s way. After all, if you’re not prepared, you’re prepared to fail.
The efforts begin with the work our dedicated men and women perform each day, including individuals who serve in various roles and perform critical tasks as part of BSO’s Homeland Security Unit. This specialized unit includes Intelligence, the Bomb Squad and the Covert Electronic Surveillance Unit, and is a vital component to combatting terrorism.
This unit’s importance was seen in January during the shooting at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood international Airport. Within 30 minutes, our Homeland Security Unit knew the attacker’s identity and gathered a dossier of information about him and his possible motives and affiliations.
In addition, BSO has dedicated personnel assigned to the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (SFJTTF). The task force, comprised of local, state and federal authorities, helps protect our nation by serving as valuable conduits for sharing vital homeland security information and countering domestic terrorism.
With increased interagency communication and bolstered investigative prowess, numerous potential terror attacks have been thwarted. In 2012, the SFJTTF arrested two brothers from Oakland Park who planned on carrying out bombing attacks in New York. BSO and the task force were also critical in halting a potential bombing at an Aventura synagogue last year.
However, our work is far from over. While BSO and law enforcement agencies throughout the country have had incredible success in preventing another 9/11-style attack, there are still challenges ahead. Chief amongst those is the ever-changing face of terrorism.
As we’ve seen from the attacks at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, today’s attacks are largely perpetrated by individuals or small groups with no known ties to established terror groups. These home-grown killers will use any means necessary to inflict as much death and destruction as they can. Many are self-radicalized through the internet—which makes it difficult to spot early warning signs. In essence, the internet is law enforcement’s biggest challenge to combatting terror.
To counter that challenge, we need the assistance of members of the community. Please, always remain vigilant and alert. If you see something, say something. Together, we are stronger in our fight against terror.
Sheriff Scott Israel