ACCOMPLISHMENTS: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

As we begin 2014, we reflect upon some of the achievements of the Broward Sheriff’s Office over the past 12 months in initiating a higher level of public safety service which has already enhanced the quality of life for our residents.

As a high school and youth league football coach for many years, one of my greatest passions is working with children. I am proud that our Civil Citation Initiative has kept Broward County youth out of the courtroom and in the classroom. Instead of a permanent arrest record, which could severely limit opportunities later in life, a youth who commits a first-time misdemeanor will now have a second chance to lead a productive life through the non-criminal, civil citation process.

Our Violence Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response (V.I.P.E.R.) Unit is the centerpiece of our efforts to fight violent crime. Since its inception 11 months ago, the V.I.P.E.R. Unit has proactively targeted Broward County’s most dangerous criminals. This unit has put hundreds of thugs behind bars, taken dozens of firearms off our streets, recovered thousands of dollars in drug money and contributed to Broward County having the largest drop in crime in over a decade.

We initiated mandatory Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for school resource deputies, field training deputies and homeless outreach liaisons. CIT deputies are specifically trained to recognize signs of mental illness, offering a specialized approach to situations that require a more caring response instead of the traditional “enforcement” approach. Deputies assigned as homeless outreach liaisons are the backbone of our Homeless Outreach Initiative. With specific training to navigate through the maze of social service providers, deputies are better prepared to guide a homeless individual to an appropriate treatment and/or care facility.

Over the past year, BSO has become more reflective of our multicultural county. Our achievements in this area were not made by hiring mandates, but by putting the most qualified people in the best possible positions. Our Community Outreach Team, a civilian unit with diverse skills, backgrounds and language fluencies, successfully connects BSO with the community. We listen and better respond to residents.

While we reflect on our accomplishments, we also remember the tragic death of Deputy Daniel Rivera, who died in a fatal car crash. We honor his service and commitment to the agency. Each day, BSO law enforcement, detention and fire personnel place themselves in harm’s way. Whether they are responding to a crisis or assisting a person in need, their safety is at risk. The dedication and professionalism of our men and women are regularly displayed serving Broward County. We are thankful for their safety and grateful for the service of all employees who support our efforts.

In the coming year, we will raise the awareness of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment, and encourage the reporting of crimes against animals. Treating animals humanely is conducive to fostering a better, safer community. Together we can give voice to those without one by recognizing animal abuse as a possible indicator of other future serious problems, including child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assaults. Please assist law enforcement by reporting such crimes to BSO or your local police department.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office is relentless and innovative in crime prevention strategies. May we always maintain respect for our citizens and each other and may our integrity and professionalism be as visible as our badges. I wish you all a happy, healthy and blessed new year. Please stay safe!

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