The History of the Broward Sheriff's Office

The Broward County Sheriff's Office, the chief law enforcement agency in Broward County, has survived a checkered path to emerge as one of the largest, most progressive, professional and respected organizations in the State of Florida. BSO serves the public with patrol and investigation of criminal activity in the unincorporated areas of the county. The agency also provides contract services to municipalities at a substantial saving of tax dollars for those residents. All of the vast resources of the agency are available to any municipality within Broward County.

With the incorporation of the county in 1915, the Broward Sheriff's Office was formed to service all areas outside the few towns that existed at that time. During the first years of service, facts are scarce as to the actual operations. Officers of this new agency were poorly trained and had a loose dedication to their responsibilities. It was the beginning of a long uphill battle that the department would endure to build and retain credibility in the eyes of the public.

Mr. A.W. Turner, a local county businessman, was elected as the first sheriff in 1915 and served until 1925. His staff was small and his men bore no resemblance to the highly trained professionals of today.

Mr. Paul C. Bryan replaced Turner in 1925, but served only two years when Turner was re-elected into office for another four year term.

Mr. Walter R. Clark was next to be elected in 1931 as Sheriff of Broward County. His open and constant association with known gangland figures kept him in the public spotlight. Local pressure forced Clark to leave office in 1938, while still under investigation for his activities. As with A.W. Turner, Clark was replaced by another sheriff, Eddie Lee, only to retake the office two years later.

Clark was sheriff for the next ten years, during the skyrocketing population growth of the forties, in spite of his notorious associations. It was during this time that the Sheriff's Office and its deputies gained a scandalous and corrupt reputation. The officers and men were shunned by all other professional police officers in the county. Sheriff Clark was summoned before the Kefauver Committee, where they tried to investigate his alleged connections with organized crime syndicate figures. Senator Kefauver's allegations were that Clark sanctioned slot machines and other illegal operations from the Sheriff's Office. He was indicted on charges of working with a notorious figure who controlled syndicate gambling casinos in South Florida. He was finally removed from office for the last time in 1950.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office saw very little, if any, change during its first 35 years. Manpower was low. Morale and dedication to duty were non-existent and employees saw very few benefits or chance for promotion. Public relations was not a paramount issue as it is today and the deputies did very little to please the citizens of Broward County. The deputies had such little respect for the public that they became stereotyped as mean and almost brutal.

With the governor's appointment of Amos Hall in 1950, the Sheriff's Office began its climb. Hall's positive attitude toward the public was reflected in his men and was noted by the citizens of Broward to the point where he was re-elected to office in 1952, after finishing two years of Clark's term. Courtesy to the public became a legend that lives on today.

With the large areas to be patrolled and only 28 deputies to do it, the department started its expansion. Under the supervision of Sergeant Edward Wagner, a five man motorcycle team was organized for the sole purpose of traffic enforcement and accident investigation.

In 1954, the Broward Sheriff's Office received a radio system of its own. Prior to this, Sheriff's deputies were dispatched by Fort Lauderdale police radio. With three dispatchers and two sergeants, BSO handled its own radio and citizen complaints. The start was a small room, two phones, two desks and a radio which - under the constant guidance of excellent leadership - has grown to 110 personnel operating a multi-million dollar system.

September of 1956 had Sheriff Hall opening a county holding facility, which occupied part of the fifth, sixth and seventh floors in the county courthouse. This too was the start of what is now one of the nation's most advanced detention systems, operated by over 1,200 sworn and civilian professionals, and housing over 3,000 pre-trial detainees.

January of 1957 saw J. A. "Quill" Lloyd take the helm from Amos Hall. It was during this four years that the department saw little or no change. A Public Safety Education division was established and, under the guidance of Sergeant Paul Radcliff, it taught the rules of safety at home and school, and the acceptance of responsibility to the children of Broward County.

1960 brought another change as Allen B. Michell was sworn in. Michell, a former Philadelphia police captain, again focused the Sheriff's Office in the spotlight of public distrust. In 1967, Michell was indicted by a Florida Grand Jury which charged him with Misfeasance, the performance of a lawful action in an illegal or improper manner, and Malfeasance, wrongdoing or misconduct by a public official while in office. Florida's Governor Hayden Burns suspended Michell while criminal proceedings were conducted. A Fort Lauderdale insurance executive, Thomas Walker, was appointed as interim sheriff. Michell was acquitted and reinstated by Governor Burns within hours of his trial. Then the Grand Jury received new evidence and Michell was again suspended. BSO Captain Dunson was initially made acting sheriff and Walker was again appointed to serve until the 1968 election.

In the 1968 election, a very popular county politician by the name of Edward J. Stack was elected. Due to his knowledge of the political arena, the department gained more than in its first 53 years. Basic benefits for department personnel were improved. Sheriff Stack realized that a public image was important and concentrated on his police services to make them highly visible. Deputies' uniforms were changed from gray and green to the white and green we see today. Stetsons were issued as head gear, replacing the squashed hard billed caps, which made the deputies stand out in a crowd. Road Patrol deputies were for the first time issued take home vehicles in 1969 and were highly visible throughout the county. This was an unprecedented goal for BSO or any other police agency in Broward County. From 1969 to 1978 the department increased in size to over 725 employees. Units added from 1970 were Organized Crime, Criminal Investigations, Crime Control and Technical Support.

In 1974, (Communications Operator) Judy Tucker attended the Broward Police Academy. While Judy was in training, BSO hired Linda Cline, who had recently graduated from a police academy in another county. Both became the first in a long line of dedicated female road deputies serving the Broward Sheriff's Office.

1975 saw the start of the county wide 9-1-1 emergency system, which today is among the most advanced in the nation. That year also saw the sheriff's office broaden its service again to assume the task of security and law enforcement at the expanding Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The sheriff also began to provide bailiffs for the county court system and transportation of prisoners throughout the county.

Sheriff Stack did little for the Detention Division during his years of control, probably due to the fact that they were not visible to the public. This area of the department would have its coming out party under the hand of a future sheriff, Robert Butterworth.

In March, 1977 the City of Lauderdale Lakes signed a contract to have the sheriff supply its police services. Sheriff Stack's statement was, "I am trying to shape the department to give the unincorporated area the same police protection as the cities." This was to be the start of an undying vote of confidence from the citizens of Broward County toward this fast growing giant of law enforcement.

In 1978, Ed Stack was elected to the United States Congress and Judge Robert Butterworth was appointed by then Governor Bob Graham to complete Stack's term as sheriff. Sheriff Butterworth was voted into office in the 1980 election. In 1982, Sheriff Butterworth was appointed Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, causing him to leave BSO and relocate to Tallahassee. The Governor then appointed Judge George Brescher to complete Butterworth's term as sheriff.

In 1980 the Town of Pembroke Park contracted with the sheriff to provide its police services and in 1981 the City of Lauderhill followed suit. In 1985 the rapid growth of western Broward was so large that a separate district office was established to provide police services in a quick and efficient manner.

The administration of Sheriff Nick Navarro, which began in 1985, was characterized by a commitment to reduce crime, coupled with community outreach efforts to improve the quality of life for all Broward County residents. At the same time, the Sheriff's Office emerged as a truly professional, nationally recognized law enforcement agency. Under Sheriff Navarro's leadership, the Broward Sheriff's Office grew from 1600 employees with a budget of $74 million in 1984-85, to over 3,000 employees and a $200 million budget at the conclusion of fiscal year 1992. Three Broward cities contracted with BSO for service during Sheriff Navarro's term.

In addition to directing the operations of Broward's largest police agency, Sheriff Navarro served as Steering Committee Chairman for the multi-agency Blue Lightning Task Force, Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Association's Anti-Crack Task Force and Vice-President of the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association. His expertise in the drug enforcement field was tapped by other law enforcement officials around the United States and the department's exploits were frequently documented by the national news media.

In 1992, voters elected Ron Cochran to serve as Sheriff of Broward County. Sheriff Cochran's law enforcement career began in 1958 when he joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Force as a patrolman. Rising through the ranks of the department, he became Police Chief in 1983. After retiring from Fort Lauderdale in 1987, Sheriff Cochran returned to public service in 1989 as Chief of the Broward County School Board's Special Investigative Unit.

On January 5, 1993, Ron Cochran was sworn in as Sheriff by Florida Attorney General, and former Sheriff, Robert Butterworth. Sheriff Cochran was joined by the county's police chiefs during the ceremony and reiterated a campaign promise that an era of cooperation between all law enforcement agencies would prevail during his term of office.

Sheriff Cochran was re-elected for a second term in November of 1996. In early 1997, he was diagnosed with cancer. After battling the disease for nine months, he succumbed to his illness on September 5, 1997. BSO Corrections Director Susan McCampbell was sworn in to act as the "chief deputy" until an interim sheriff was appointed four months later.

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles called upon State Senator Ken Jenne to serve as Broward County Sheriff in January 1998. Broward voters elected Sheriff Jenne to continue serving as Sheriff in the 1998 special election. Sheriff Jenne was subsequently re-elected in 2000 and 2004. During Sheriff Jenne's tenure, the Broward Sheriff's Office experienced unprecedented growth as it expanded its law enforcement services to several of the county's incorporated municipalities. In 2003, the Broward Sheriff's Office also merged with the county's fire/rescue department. BSO Fire Rescue & Emergency Services expanded to offer services to several cities across the county. Under Sheriff Jenne's leadership, the Broward Sheriff's Office grew to become the nation's largest fully accredited sheriff's department. In September 2007, Sheriff Jenne resigned his position and pled guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in federal court.

Following Sheriff Jenne's resignation, Governor Charlie Christ appointed BSO Major Al Lamberti, a 30-year veteran of BSO, to serve as the next Sheriff of Broward County. Sheriff Lamberti was the first Broward Sheriff to rise entirely through the ranks within BSO. In November 2008, the voters of Broward County elected Sheriff Lamberti to a four-year term as Sheriff.

In 2012, Sheriff Lamberti was defeated for re-election by former North Bay Village Police Chief Scott Israel. On January 8, 2013, Sheriff Scott Israel – a 30 year veteran South Florida police officer – was sworn into office as the 16th Sheriff of Broward County. Since taking office, Sheriff Israel has vowed to address the serious issues of recidivism, youth diversion programs, gun violence, and homelessness in our community. He also is working to positively change the culture within BSO and restore morale among the BSO’s rank and file employees in order to enhance public safety in Broward County.

Click here for a history of fire rescue services in Broward County.

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The Sheriffs of
Broward County

Scott Israel
2013 - Present
Al Lamberti
2007 - 2013
Ken Jenne
1997 - 2007
Ron Cochran
1993 - 1997
Nick Navarro
1985 - 1993
George Brescher
1983 - 1985
Robert Butterworth
1979 - 1982
Edward Stack
1969 - 1979
Thomas Walker
1968
Allen B. Michell
1961 - 1968
J.A. "Quill" Lloyd
1957 - 1961
Amos Hall
1951 - 1957
Walter Clark
1941 - 1950
Eddie Lee
1939 - 1940
Walter Clark
1931 - 1939
A.W. Turner
1927 - 1931
Paul C. Bryan
1925 - 1927
A.W. Turner
1915 - 1925