Good afternoon Jeff and Christina.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak to the International Union of Police Associations representing the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) employees this afternoon. Please share this email with Joe, Patrice, and Larry as I did not get email addresses from them.
Here is a recap of the items we discussed today and my positions:
Christina shared a comparison of law enforcement officers’ pay scale. The document compares entry levels and supervisor minimum salaries with other municipal departments and county agencies. As I stated, I strongly support budgetary actions to improve BSO’s uniform personnel’s salary increases to make the agency more competitive. We must attract, hire and retain the best and brightest to fill vacancies in each of BSO’s Departments.
We discussed a recent proposal for 2%, 2% and $1000 as the latest position in contract negotiations. I believe BSO employees have been traditionally underpaid and a great deal of the problem stems from the County’s insistence that the Sheriff’s office receive approximately half of the general fund while the County retains the other half. I never understood the reason for this formula and believe it is more of a legacy than a real assessment of the programs funded. I believe all County Departments and BSO should compete for these funds based on a strategic plan that lays out the priorities of the community. As a candidate going door to door as part of my grass roots campaign, I know that Public Safety is a priority and is front and center in the minds of the community. Instead of splitting the budget nearly in half, let’s consider having all programs compete for these limited resources.
Joe mentioned to me before the meeting and Christina followed up on the funding shortfalls in the Child Protective Investigative Section. As you know, as a Guardian ad Litem, I understand the importance of this Section and will work cooperatively with the Union and BSO to get additional funding from the State.
As to body worn cameras, I am not sold on this program being the answer to the problems stated. I am always hesitant to undertake a program that could be a kneejerk reaction to an issue. The assumption is that having deputies wear these cameras will reduce the threat to the community. For the most part, it does not provide any additional protection for our deputies out in the community. In addition, although the cameras are now relatively inexpensive; the training, maintenance and not to mention the video storage will be a legacy cost far into the future.
This morning I watched a video where a Hallandale police officer shot and killed a suspect who attempted to run over the officer. Although a body worn camera caught the scene and showed an acceptable use of force, the witnesses and details of the event would have supported the officers account of the incident. I am certain I am not ready to approve spending public safety funds when in the final assessment these funds could could be spent on better training and equipment for our law enforcement officers. We need to take a long view of this issue and determine what is the root cause of the problem we are trying to define and identify the best ways to address it. I am certain when we determine the root cause of these incidents, it will not be the lack of cameras. It could be that body worn cameras are the best answer but from a review of the literature I do not believe we are close to making that determination.
As I stated at the beginning of the interview, as a successful public safety official, I understand and support our men and women in green.
Once again, I appreciate your time and hope you found my answers to your broad range of questions and my knowledge of the plight of the agency to qualify me for the endorsement of the IUAP.