A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
BSO: RISING UP TO MEET THE CHALLENGE
When I talk with residents in the community, I’m often asked if the Broward Sheriff’s Office has been able to make real improvements to keep our county and its 1.8 million residents safer and more secure. The short answer: Absolutely yes!
When I became Sheriff in January 2013, Broward was in the midst of a public safety crisis. Crime had soared to unacceptable highs; our homeless and mentally ill were being treated as criminals; we were sending far too many kids to jail; and we had an agency that both failed to resemble our diverse community and struggled to connect with it.
What a difference almost four years of hard work and innovative ideas can make. Thanks to BSO’s amazing sworn and civilian personnel and the agency’s progressive law enforcement initiatives, violent crime in Broward has plummeted to its lowest levels in decades. We’ve reversed the long trend of rising crime by performing exceptional police work while incorporating new proactive approaches to crime fighting, including intelligence-led policing.
Our Violence Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response (VIPER) Unit, a crime-fighting initiative that targets Broward County’s most dangerous violent criminals, and the Burglary Apprehension Team (BAT), which targets criminals who break into homes and vehicles, are two highly successful examples. Since 2012, violent offenses are down 18 percent while burglaries have plunged a stunning 42 percent because of these two initiatives.
BSO has also been quick in confronting unforeseen, new law enforcement challenges. When the highly-dangerous designer drug Flakka suddenly appeared and became an out-of-control scourge in Broward, we met it head on. Within months, we effectively stamped out the deadly drug from Broward’s streets.
Yet, while a strong response is warranted during certain circumstances, I am also mindful there is no one-size-fits-all approach to public safety. Through the Juvenile Civil Citation Program and P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Program, thousands of students have been kept in the classroom and out of the courtroom – avoiding criminal records while being given a chance to turn their lives around. We have also made dramatic strides with our Homeless Outreach Initiative, which connects the homeless to appropriate social services – treating them with dignity and respect instead of arrests and costly jail space.
BSO has also diligently worked to bring transparency and build community trust by embracing a community policing model where law enforcement and members of Broward’s diverse communities work hand in hand to improve public safety services and make their own neighborhoods safer.
Amazingly, we have accomplished far more by working with far less. As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, we have become more streamlined, smarter and efficient in tackling the public safety issues confronting us.
In the years to come, I vow to continue to advance the mission and goals of BSO. My top priorities include: the expansion of our body-worn camera program so all deputies are equipped with the technology; the further development of the Civil Citation Program; and increased fraud protections for senior citizens.
The past four years have brought about huge successes, and I am excited for what BSO has in store for the future.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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