Florida Bulldog

Broward cities that pay sheriff for police/fire services consider heading for the exits amid unrest over costs, control

Broward cities

By Dan Christensen,

A rebellion is brewing among the 13 cities that pay tens of millions of dollars to the Broward Sheriff’s Office every year for police and fire services.

The principal complaints: skyrocketing costs, a lack of fiscal transparency and accountability by Sheriff Gregory Tony’s administration and little or no input or control over the BSO personnel assigned to protect their municipalities.

At least nine mayors of BSO contract cities have agreed to meet Wednesday to discuss what Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross, who called the meeting, says are “options” in dealing with an intransigent sheriff’s office. The meeting at Cooper City’s City Hall, 9090 SW 50th Pl., is to start at 1 p.m.

Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross

Sheriff Tony has indicated he, too, will attend. Broward’s nine county commissioners were also invited, but so far none has said they will be there.

One small south Broward town, Pembroke Park, announced earlier this year that it was terminating its longstanding police services contract with BSO and establishing its own police department. WPLG-Channel 10 reported in May that the town expects to save $600,000 a year fielding a small force of 16 sworn and two nonsworn employees.  An interim police chief has been hired and the goal is to make the switch this summer, the station reported.

Pembroke Park will continue to pay BSO for fire rescue services.

Options for Broward cities

One matter likely to come up for discussion this week will involve nearly $8 million in “undesignated contractual services surplus dollars” that BSO collected from cities for police and fire services, but were unspent and returned to the county – not the cities – last October. At the time, Sheriff Tony told county budget director Norman Foster that the county commission had agreed to re-appropriate 70 percent of those funds, and related surplus funds, to BSO “for future capital needs.”

“If there was a significant surplus last year, why are the contract cities being told that costs have increased this year?” said Cooper City Commissioner Ryan Shrouder.

Cooper City Commissioner Ryan Shrouder

Besides soldiering on with BSO or setting up a new municipal public safety department cities have at least one other novel option on the table: doing a regional public safety deal with a larger neighbor like Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale that maintains its own local force. One former BSO city, Southwest Ranches, took such a route in 2014 when it contracted with Davie to patrol its streets and supplement the town’s volunteer fire department.

In his invitation to the mayors last month, Ross wrote that he was concerned about “BSO tactics,” including the sheriff’s unwillingness “to verify their budget with the cities, and their disallowing any true ups on an annual basis.” A true up is a year-end adjustment or payment designed to reconcile the price charged by BSO with the actual cost.

“Unified we have better leverage in negotiating with BSO. Alternatively, we can discuss other options,” Ross wrote in his June 17 email.

In an interview, Ross told Florida Bulldog that Cooper City currently pays BSO “just shy of $25 million” for annual police and fire services, with five percent increases per year.

“So it would be over $26 million next year. We think that’s not sustainable,” Ross said.

The sheriff’s response

Sheriff Tony received a copy of Ross’s email the day it was sent and promptly responded: “In short, the commentary/allegation disseminate is not even remotely close to having merit. My office continues to provide direct unfiltered transparency to all our city officials who would make an inquiry into their contractual terms and agreements. Unfortunately, transparency doesn’t always yield the answer one may seek but the answers we provide are vetted, analyzed and based upon one core modality – truth…We don’t utilize ‘tactics’ or forms of manipulation when presenting our services to our city partners.”

Deerfield Beach, however, also is skeptical of BSO’s answers. Last month the city commission began considering whether to create an Office of Public Safety. The duties of the office’s director would include keeping watch on significant police and fire costs. A final vote on whether to fund the new office will come in August or September.

Deerfield Beach Commissioner Todd Drosky

“Public safety is over 60 percent of our budget and there’s no real oversight,” Commissioner Todd Drosky said at the meeting. “We’re paying a lot of expenses at the word of downtown. It’s like trust me, you’re getting a good deal on this, but nobody is verifying that.”

In an interview, Drosky said the city’s general funds budget is roughly $100 million. City Manager David Santucci has indicated he will attend this week’s meeting in Cooper City.

Similarly, Parkland, which contracts with BSO for police protection, hired retired Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell in April to serve as the city’s first public safety advisor

Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin said he also will attend the meeting, but not because he’s unhappy with BSO’s police services. “We pay a pretty penny, of course, but they do a good job for us,” Hardin said. “The reason I’ll be attending is just to hear what’s going on… An investigative mission to hear what Mayor Ross has to say.”

Cooper City’s unhappiness

Cooper City merged its police and fire services with the sheriff’s office in 2004 when Ken Jenne was sheriff. BSO expanded significantly under Jenne, who inked contracts with a number of Broward cities, including Pompano Beach, Oakland Park and North Lauderdale. In 2003, BSO also contracted with the county to assume control of Broward County Fire Rescue, Port Everglades Fire Rescue and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Fire Rescue. All three were soon merged into the Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue service.

Today, BSO, which also serves the county’s unincorporated areas, boasts approximately 5,400 employees, including 2,800 sworn deputies and 700 fire rescue professionals.

At a meeting late last month, the Cooper City Commission voted 4-1 to have City Manager Joseph Napoli look for alternatives to staying with BSO. (The city today operates under a three-year contract that expires in 2023, but has an opt-out clause with six months’ notice.) Napoli will prepare an interim report by next month, with a final report due in late September.

The agenda item for that June 22 meeting states that the city’s “operational and financial control over our public safety services continues to erode. Recent actions by BSO have demonstrated that the City has no input, oversight or control over our public safety operations or finances. After re-signing a contract [last year] that already shifted millions of dollars worth of costs from BSO to the City, BSO is again demanding an increase in payment more than the contractual rate and has failed to provide the required documentation to justify the increase.”

“BSO unilaterally transfers employees in and out of the City without regard for the impact on the community and BSO floats personnel into the City who are not geographically familiar with the area resulting in delayed response times. Furthermore, BSO has blatantly rebuffed the Mayor’s demands to replace unsafe fire equipment that does not meet national standards,” the item says.

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14 responses to “Broward cities that pay sheriff for police/fire services consider heading for the exits amid unrest over costs, control”

  1. I am surprised that it has taken this long for these issues to be brought to light. A goofy idea in the first place.

  2. Steve Dixon Avatar

    Broward Sheriff’s Office a mercenary force.

  3. Art Hernandez Avatar
    Art Hernandez

    Something fishy is going on here in Broward they are denied the true matter of where’s the money is going

  4. Therealtruth Avatar

    Why wont the govenor admit Tony was the wrong choice and remove him? Tony changed his name to hide his past and then lied on police applications AND the recent FDLE affidavit. FBI and FDLE said they have active investigations on Tony but what is taking so long? Tony attacked his own employees and totally ignored his unions which ultimately will be his and BSO downfall if things aren’t corrected ASAP. The residents of Broward have been suffering because deputies stopped being proactive due to being scared of unjust political terminations of deputies.

  5. Kevin Bolling Avatar

    Treats his staff like honerable elected public servants. Ego, bully and intimidating style. The problem is he knows he is a short timer and he is moving money and contracts so his self serving pockets are full when he leaves.
    1. How many accidents has tony/toney been in since be wrongly appointed?
    2. How many Staff members have been reinstated after he bullied and wrongly fired or over punished?
    3. How much tax money has he given to lawyers defending employment related issues.?
    4. Did he fire Peterson, as reported to MDS victims and the public?
    5. Are the Deputies he fired back to work as two court orders, ordered him to.

  6. […] “Broward cities that pay Sheriff for police/fire services consider heading for the exits amid unrest …” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — A rebellion is brewing among the 13 cities that pay tens of millions of dollars to the Broward Sheriff’s Office every year for police and fire services. The principal complaints: skyrocketing costs, a lack of fiscal transparency and accountability by Sheriff Gregory Tony’s administration, and little or no input or control over the BSO personnel assigned to protect their municipalities. At least nine Mayors of BSO contract cities have agreed to meet Wednesday to discuss what Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross, who called the meeting, says are “options” in dealing with an intransigent sheriff’s office. The meeting at Cooper City’s City Hall is to start at 1 p.m. […]

  7. Therealtruth Avatar

    Tony is wasting millions in taxpayer money fighting all those politically motivated terminations and suspensions. I guess we now know where all that extra money the cities are paying is REALLY going to!! BSO will have to pay all that back pay PLUS interest, both sides of expensive lawyer fees AND paying all the years of overtime to cover their shifts. Tony refuses to work with the unions to settle all these cases, he might actually be surprised if he allowed his lawyers to sit down at a table with the deputies and unions to negotiate something.

    Cities see BSO morale is at its lowest because Tony has deputies scared of being unjustly terminated. Tony has ignored his own command staff, IA and the civilian board on EVERY case by upgrading straight to termination. Every sheriff before Tony knew things operate better when you work with your unions instead of against them.

  8. BSO has been going steadily downhill ever since Desantis overruled Broward voters and hastily picked the unqualified Tony to be Sheriff. The mistakes Tony constantly make continue to add up, until BSO is now at the point where they are hiding their finances from City government oversight. I fully expect this scandal to end up with high level BSO administrators facing corruption and embezzlement charges.

  9. Either way if they contract with BSO or another city it’s still contract policing. With the way crime is spiraling out of control, a larger agency has better resources to address these issues. In a county, this size there should only be one large police force. Last year we had a riots and BSO was more equipped to handle the situation. The cost of these contracts seems high compared to other contract cities across the state. Palm Beach does not have these issues their cities are very pleased with PBSO. The difference is Palm Beach has a sheriff who has been there nearly 20 years. Either way, BSO should stay the primary agency in Broward for policing. They need real leadership.

  10. Broward County Democrats voted for this POS idiot Sheriff and got what they deserve! Now it’s time to live with their decision!!!

    No city wants to pay for pensions, 401K’s, equipment, stations, etc… but that’s going to be the cost of doing business for any city!

    Having a great Sheriff’s Office like BSO was a fluke!!! Agencies like that just don’t exist! Building BSO into the mighty agency it once was was the vision of one man, Ken Jenne! You can’t expect other Sheriffs like Scott Israel or Greg Tony to remotely understand or support a vision like that! It’s beyond their comprehension!!!

    The days of the mighty BSO are over! Start preparing now for a alternate plan to keep cities safe and stop voting for corrupt Democrats!!!

  11. Like other county departments, BSO has a crystal palace loaded with un-needed brass. Majors, Captains and Lieutenants galore. All shuffling paperwork to justifiy their jobs. I can’t answer the question about un-returned funds but that can’t be hidden. Press hard enough and that question can be answered. If the money did not go where it was supposed to go or where it was supposed to be returned then there is a remedy. Do I think these cities believe that they will save money by running their own department….No. The expense and liability of running a PD is too great when you can contract it out to a larger entity. The only thing pembroke park seeks is the power and control that comes from having their thumb on the PD. Even if they manage to transition to their own department they will be sorely lacking for manpower in short order…injuries and suspensions take their toll on every department. They will be reaching out to BSO and hallandale for help when they find themselves working with one Sgt and one officer working the road in the middle of the night. One shooting and you can forget about having anyone show up to your 911 call for 4 or 5 hours.

  12. As one who remembers what it was like before BSO took over these departments l allow me to state the following. Aside from Deerfield Beach and Pompano the great majority of these departments were understaffed, underequiped, they lacked the expertise , manpower and resources t t o provide any semblance of a modern police department. You only have to look at what HAPPENED TO l lAUDERHILL when they reactivated their force. They had little if any clue on how a modern police department functions and the results of their work was witness to this. These towns may save money but, i fear and regret they will feel the error of this decision…. Modern police has a major reliance on scientific examination, whether physical, electronic etc. Can these smaller cities evn begin to afford the necessary labs to provide these necessities. I doubt it…..

  13. I was vocal when Kenny’s Keystone Kops came into Pompano and have been proven correct numerous times. From a PBPD officer in every zone continuously, we now have 2 deputies at a Dunkin Donut shop and that is it!!
    The entire switch was rigged to benefit former mayor Bill Griffin– who promptly was given a “No Show” job by one of Korrupt Kenny’s supporters reading the newspaper each morning. Pompano has had studies (paid by taxpayers) straw votes, etc, all showing complete dissatisfaction with Broward’s Steroided Oafs.
    I actually notified regulating agencies of thousands of self perjuring by their traffic team running radar on Cypress Creek Road– they were timing in Fort Lauderdale where they have no authority to enforce a municipal speed limit and writing it up as Oakland Park. ALL of BSO should be forced to refund their salaries and get real jobs!!

  14. If you know you know Avatar
    If you know you know

    The ballots counted toward Greg Tony’s final number were unofficial. Every ballot had a QFS Blockchain secret watermark on them, most of Tony’s did not. Boxes & boxes of counterfeit ballots were shipped in to south Florida ports. Some of Those Fraudulent ballots were used here in broward and counted multiple times to ensure the win of the chosen ones. Digital footprints of exactly what took place were captured. The US military has all of it. Whether you are a democrat or republican you expect honest elections. The time is coming closer for the evidence to be revealed. When it does Tony as well as a few others will have a life changing experience. Watch Arizona & Georgia as they will be the first to expose the fraud.

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