CORAL SPRINGS, FL - There’s a new sheriff in town, maybe.
“What?” you might be saying, “Why should I care about that? After all, Coral Springs has a highly rated police department.” Yes, it does. Let’s talk a little about that and why you still should be very interested in the race for sheriff.
One hundred and twenty strong with 100 civilian back up staff, the Coral Springs Police Department has worked with its city to produce one of the lowest crime rates per 100,000 residents in the state. And the sheriff’s office?
Mutt and Jeff.
With 5,400 employees -- 2,800 of whom are certified law enforcement officers plus 700 certified fire personnel -- this 105-year old institution is the largest in the state. It serves unincorporated Broward, itself a huge county, plus 14 cities and towns by contract. Its budget proposed for this year is just above a half billion (yes, that’s with a “B”) dollars.
So even just as a taxpayer, you should be asking, “What does it do for that money aside from fight fires that is of value to me?” A lot.
The Sheriff’s Office handles a lot of murder cases that local municipalities don’t have the person-power to cover. When you go to court, the people protecting your judges and you are deputies. Taking a flight out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport or a trip from Port Everglades? Again, the Sheriff’s Office is your eyes and ears against crime and terrorism.
The criminals, where do they go? The BSO manages four jails, the largest being the Broward County Stockade, a maximum-security prison recently enlarged to accommodate 1,538 “guests.”
BSO also provides county-wide communications. It has a bomb squad, a k-9 unit, an air rescue unit, an Everglades Rescue Unit, and a HAZMAT team. It runs the Child Protective Investigation Section, and of the latest, and most note, the school resource program. All available to the municipalities.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the school resource program because of the MSD’s tragedy. And herein is the biggest decision for you the voter -- if the amount of money and numbers of services that are attributed to BSO aren’t enough to get your attention as a voter, the horror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should be.
What do you, citizen and voter, think about now-retired Deputy Scot Peterson’s actions that day? What about BSO’s overall handling of the situation? If you don’t give it a passing grade, should or should you not hold then-Sheriff Scott Israel responsible? Do you agree or not that he should have been removed? How has Sheriff Gregory Tony done? Do you even know? Should you be going to the BSO website and reading the changes in the department he has made? Are you ultimately going to reinstate Israel or re-elect Tony?
This year’s national election is gobbling up all the political oxygen in the country. As a voter, you can’t allow that.
The so-called “down ballot” elections are the offices that most effect, as we political scientists who study urban affairs say, getting the potholes filled. In Broward County, one of the most critical down-ballot votes you have to make is for sheriff.
People of Coral Springs, be ready to make it.
Read William A. Gralnick’s previous column for TAPinto Coral Springs:
A resident of South Florida for more than 30 years, Bill Gralnick has written more than 900 op-eds and columns for newspapers around the country, including columns for the Brooklyn Eagle.
His latest book, found on Amazon.com, Kindle or paperback, is the coming-of-age memoir, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn.”
His writings can be found on his website: williamgralnickauthor.com
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