Cities Air Complaints About Broward Sheriff's Office Service: 'We Have Almost No Say Anymore Of Control'
Leaders from cities and towns in Broward County, that contract with BSO for police and/or fire rescue services, complain that BSO has high costs, no transparency, and cities have no control over staffing etc. No one from the agency showed up to Wednesday's meeting.
This post's description has been updated.
Cities and towns that have contracts with the Broward Sheriff's Office for police or fire services met at Cooper City's City hall Wednesday.
The local leaders aired grievances about their contracts with BSO in front of County Mayor Steve Geller.
Sheriff Gregory Tony was invited but did not attend — nor did anyone from BSO.
"It's disappointing not to see, whether it's Sheriff Tony or someone else, [the agency] here," Parkland Mayor Rich Walker said.
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Sheriff Tony had initially responded yes to the invite but let the mayors know earlier in the day Wednesday he wouldn't be able to make it, Cooper City's mayor said at the top of the meeting.
Outside the building, a deputy normally assigned for the zone of Cooper City that includes City Hall, stood outside the meeting on regular duty. She could hear the complaints about the lack of BSO's presence in communities over an outside speaker.
"I just want people to know I am here," she later told WLRN.
Mayors from nine municipalities spoke either in person, or on the Zoom meeting over the course of two hours. It was Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross who initiated the meeting.
Cooper City Commissioner Ryan Shrouder doesn't feel cities with contracts are a priority for BSO.
"It's expensive and that may not be an issue if you got the level of service you wanted," he said. "We have no control financially or operationally ... we have almost no say anymore of control."
Thirteen municipalities in Broward County have contracts with BSO for police services. Eight have contracts for fire rescue services.
The town of Pembroke Park is so fed up with BSO it is starting its own police department. Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs said it will save them $550,000 a year.
"We were gonna go bankrupt in about six years if we continued down this path," said Jacobs. "No one would return my calls, no one would discuss the contract with me. No one would meet with me. So, we can operate our own police department ... which is already less than what we're paying BSO."
There were concerns from multiple municipalities about increasing costs year over year, the sale and purchase of equipment, and why money doesn't go back to the cities if they overpaid for BSO's services in a given year.
Some cities shared similar concerns about lack of control over staffing levels and moving staff but other problems were complaints unique to certain cities depending on their specific contract.
Margate is imminently considering whether or not to sign a contract with the sheriff's office.
"The reason this is important to us is because we are literally one city commission meeting away from going with BSO for fire rescue," Mayor Arlene Schwartz said.
"Don't go!" Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper exclaimed in response.
Broward County Mayor Steve Geller tried to defend BSO, when necessary, but allowed each of the municipalities time to vent and explain their circumstances. He wrapped up the meeting by encouraging the upset cities to go around the law enforcement agency, if they so choose.
"If you are concerned with BSO, you may want to consider regional compacts between nearby cities," Geller suggested.
WLRN reached out to the Broward Sheriff's Office for comment. Sheriff Gregory Tony responded with this statement:
“We are honored to serve the residents and visitors of Broward County and will continue to provide quality service to the cities we partner with on public safety.”
This post's description section was updated to remove a reference to the meeting being a county commission meeting. The meeting took place at Cooper City's City Hall and was not a regularly scheduled Broward County commission meeting.