Recently, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Deputies Association Local IUPA 6020 urged their membership to participate in a “call to action” against Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief, County Commissioners and County Administrator Bertha Henry. The reasons for the call to action were outlined in a memorandum from Local 6020 President Jeff Bell, a copy of which was obtained by Broward County.
The memorandum is filled with inaccuracies and malicious innuendo about the actions of Broward County and Mayor Sharief in the aftermath of the horrific January 6, 2017 shooting incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) that claimed five lives, wounded six others, and involved approximately 12,000 passengers in the largest airport evacuation in the nation’s history.
Sadly, Mr. Bell never gave Broward County an opportunity to hear or respond to his version of the facts, thereby giving the memorandum and call to action the appearance of a shameless attempt to use a tragic incident and the business decisions following it to garner public support for increased public safety funding.
Notwithstanding any allegations that suggest Mayor Sharief is feuding with the Sheriff, no such feud exists. The County Commission is living up to its responsibilities to Broward County residents, businesses and visitors to provide a safe and secure environment at Broward County facilities. Here are the facts.
FACT: The Broward County Mayor never directed the County Administrator to seek alternative options for police services at our Airport or Port, and neither did anyone else at Broward County. Following a publicly televised announcement by Sheriff Scott Israel that he would only provide security at the new Courthouse under his terms, the County Administrator directed staff to draft a public solicitation for law enforcement services currently provided by BSO. That’s just good business.
FACT: The County currently has agreements with BSO to provide security at FLL and Port Everglades, but they are more than 20 years old and need to be updated. This, coupled with the Sheriff’s statement he may not be interested in providing security at the new Courthouse, forced the County to bring the agreements forward for revision, and ensure that a contingency plan was in place for security services through another provider, in the event we were unable to reach an agreement satisfactory to both parties. That’s just good business. While the County is not required to use BSO for security, we have chosen to do so.
FACT: Mayor Sharief was not “working the phones” to obtain media interviews following the airport incident. While law enforcement including FBI were in charge of the incident response, the shooting and evacuation occurred at a County facility. It was entirely appropriate for the Broward County Mayor to be engaged in responding to public inquiries, as were Sheriff Israel and many other elected officials. Per the County Charter, Broward County’s Mayor is the face of our County in an emergency. This policy was reaffirmed by the Mayor’s colleagues following the January 6th incident.
Mayor Barbara Sharief has both publicly and privately acknowledged the bravery of all emergency responders, including Broward County Aviation and law enforcement, who not only answered the call the day of the airport incident, but who place their lives on the line every day to protect the residents of our great community. Shame on Mr. Bell for encouraging BSO deputies to turn security at County facilities into “Let’s Make a Deal” for political support.