PARKLAND, FL- This year, our nation – our world – has been faced with unprecedented challenges. From a global health crisis to civil unrest and the reminder of inequalities for people of color, our strength, our faith and our wills have all been tested. As we enter the eighth month of 2020, I gain strength from the opportunities before us. The opportunity to listen. To grow. To mend. And to change.
In the last 18 months, I have made significant changes that focus on building stronger community relationships and restoring trust by bringing accountability and transparency to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. I have revised policy to establish a Use of Force Review Board, appointed new members to the Professional Standards Committee, established progressive training protocols and improved recruitment practices to ensure we are hiring the most qualified applicants. Despite these advancements, we must do more.
Recently, I’ve had several opportunities to sit down with community leaders and advocates for change to listen to their concerns and discuss areas of strength and opportunities for growth. Our dialogues were progressive, and the BSO command staff and I welcomed their input.
The focus of our discussions was on policing practices. Today, law enforcement remains the only branch of government that is required to respond to every situation where there is an immediate need or threat. Often, these needs are met by people in crisis, who are hurting, who have been wronged, are suffering or have been defrauded. Our deputies are trained in conflict resolution and de-escalation; the majority (soon to be all) are trained in crisis intervention. Yet, as a profession, our policing approaches must continue to evolve.
Since becoming sheriff, I have made a commitment to investing resources in areas where they are needed most. Aside from the aforementioned changes, I have restructured the Law Enforcement Trust Fund process to ensure it is more fair and equitable to serve nonprofit organizations that focus on issues vital to our community. We have established the BSO Legacy Program offering scholarships and internships to minority individuals interested in a career in public safety. We have established a Youth Mentorship Program focused on mentoring youth and developing them into strong, responsible civically-engaged adults.
Change will not come overnight. However, these changes are just the beginning of establishing systemic solutions toward a more unified Broward. I will continue to make progressive changes for the benefit of this community. At BSO, we are listening. We are evolving. We are prioritizing the needs of the people we serve. And we are committed to working together with you to maintain trust and strengthen our community.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony