UNITING BROWARD: PROTECTING COMMUNITIES

As sheriff of the 1.8 million residents of Broward County, I recognize that our community is diverse, comprised of people from many races, religions and cultures, and each needs to be heard. Broward is a minority-majority county, and in order to better protect and represent every community, I am committed to extending the lines of communication to effectively respond to any unmet needs. I understand that in many cultures and in certain instances voicing concerns to a deputy with a badge and a gun can be intimidating. To bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, BSO must earn your trust. We have made significant strides in achieving this through a change in the culture at BSO, particularly through our Department of Community Outreach.

Community Outreach and the chaplain’s office are essential in facilitating meetings with many diverse religious groups. Aside from my family’s own blended faith and our experiences with Christian and Jewish services, I attend many religious and cultural ceremonies to gain a better understanding of other faiths. These experiences provide me the opportunity to realize what matters to each community. In turn, secular members express how thankful and grateful they are to see the Broward Sheriff’s Office take such an active approach to working together. Many faith communities have remarked that trust between BSO and their congregation has grown and is flourishing because they know their opinions matter. Although BSO has always had an open-door policy, not every voice was heard. Today, BSO is an agency committed to listening, which has resulted in all faiths being represented. I continue to encourage and invite all religious institutions to discuss what matters and how we can work together to achieve those goals.

2013 marked a crucial turning point in the culture and traditions of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. I was determined that BSO play a noticeable and active role in many events for organizations such as NAMI, HANDY, the YMCA and the NAACP — organizations that voice the concerns of Broward County. By joining the Jimmy Cefalo Radio Show every Wednesday morning on WIOD, I was also able to communicate what the men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office were doing for every community, and spread the word that BSO is here to help. Today, community members are more at ease; they bring matters to our attention instead of waiting for them to escalate. BSO has always been an agency of proud tradition. Now a cornerstone of that tradition is to make a positive impact — one that encourages trust, reliability and dependability through the establishment of a two-way street of communication. Community leaders recognize a noticeable cultural change has taken place at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and I look forward to continuing this in 2014.

Another facet of BSO’s cultural transformation is that among our personnel, we encourage ethnic pride, religious heritage and cultural identity, and we do so in a manner that honors inclusiveness. The men and women of BSO will continue to reflect and represent the individuals we protect and serve because they are hired and promoted based on their talents and abilities. When you hire the right person for the right position, diversity and morale in the work place take care of themselves. BSO has become an agency where supervisors mentor and leaders lead by example. BSO personnel are encouraged to rely on these values and the spirit of inclusion whenever they interact with the public.

Public safety requires involvement from the community. I want every member of our community to know that they have my attention, my ear and my respect. At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, your voice will be heard and understood. We are all one community and must work together.

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