By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Family, friends and law enforcement officers from across South Florida gathered at a Ft. Lauderdale church on Monday to say their final goodbyes to former Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro who passed away last week.

The service was held at the First Baptist Church at 301 E. Broward Boulevard at 11 a.m.   It will be followed by interment at Lauderdale Memorial Park, located at 2001 SW 4th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.

“He was much admired by everyone because not only because of his panche, and his skill, and his daring, but because of his wealth of knowledge,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jim Leljedal told the gathering.

Navarro, who had been struggling with colon cancer, died last Wednesday at age 81.

Navarro was remembered for his long, distinguished law enforcement career, serving as a federal narcotics agent and a tough-minded Broward Sheriff.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti remembered Navarro as a “cop’s cop” and always on duty.

Lamberti recalled a story from years ago when Sheriff Navarro called for backup late one night.

“He’s standing on the side of the road in a tuxedo. He had just come from a charity event,” Lamberti said. “He had just pulled over a drunk driver on his way home.”

He was also remembered for his great sense of humor and his sensitive side.

“While he can be tough as nails when he needs to; he’ll cry like a baby watching a sad movie,” Navarro’s wife Sharon said. “Well, everybody cried in Lassie and Free Willy, but he had a sensitive side too.”

His terms leading BSO are marked by a dedication to cleaning up Broward’s streets of drugs and other crimes, transforming BSO into a nationally recognized law enforcement agency and battling with rap group 2 Live Crew.

Navarro also played an integral role in the pioneering TV show, “Cops”, by allowing BSO deputies to be filmed fighting crime for the show’s first season.

“His law enforcement career was about as varied as it could  be,” said Leljedal.

According to BSO, Navarro is credited with taking the agency with 1,600 employees and a $74 million budget, to more than 3,000 employees and a $200 million budget at the end of 1992. During his term, three Broward cities signed on for service from BSO deputies and staff.

“He could always be counted on, he was gentleman to the day he died,” recalled Sunrise Police Chief John Brooks.  “This is a chance for us to come and show our respects, it’s chance for us to show the entire community what Nick Navarro meant to everybody in law enforcement.”

Navarro started his own security firm, the Fort Lauderdale-based Navarro Group, after losing a re-election bid in 1993.

Former Broward Sheriff and Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth called Navarro “America’s Sheriff.”

“Sheriff Nick Navarro,” he said, looking up in the church, “we were all honored to have had the opportunity to serve with you.  Thank you our friend for a job very well done.  We’ll miss you.”

Comments (3)
  1. Johnny says:

    I don’t mean to be a jerk, but they’re conveniently glossing over what a hypocritical puritan anachronistic bible-thumper he was when he tried to use the our collective government and police as his own private enforcer of 19th Century Victorian morals in his ruthless pursuit of 2 Live Crew, which was merely innocent entertainment for 18+ audiences. In this day and age, his puritannical approach to finding anything adult “obscenity” looks backward almost to the point of bordering on fascism.

    Interesting that none of this makes its appearance here, or anywhere else where the tributes to this man point only to the positives. I recall his attitude back then actually stepped quite a ways outside of his legal authority and he’s lucky no one is making a bigger deal about the “sheriff who took the law into his own hands” or anything.

    Well, I guess when someone dies, it’s natural for people to say nice things about them, but let’s not forget that this man tried pretty hard to enforce his extreme religious views on an entire city, the law notwithstanding. Now he can rest in peace, but let’s let the record show the truth.

  2. John McNamara says:

    For any law enforcement person to state that Navarro was a lawman’s lawman has as much credence as saying the same about Al Capone. Ask former sheriff, George Bresher, who busted Navarro for selling confiscated property out of the back door at a warehouse at the port and asked Navarro to open the safe in his office; whereupon Navarro responded that he did not know the combination. Bresher ordered the safe opened by a lock expert and found Navarro’s 1/2 empty bag of cocaine, more than $100,000 in cash, and an unregistered 9mm handgun.

    Wasn’t it Navarro who manufactured crack cocaine in his lab and then lost the crack?

    Wasn’t it Navarro who gave the keys to the briefing room to drug kingpins?

    Wasn’t it Navarro who arrive4d at a sting arrest and ordered the un-arrest of the already-arrested subjects only to put his foot on the back of one and announce “You’re under arrest” for the benefit of the news cameras then present?

    Wasn’t it Navarro who franchised the service of process industry in Broward County and awarded franchises to his friends and campaign supporters? And isn’t this the same Nick Navarro who was the subject of a federal lawsuit by John McNamara and Robert Vollrath, wherein state representative John Cosgrove (the chair of the judiciary committee) testified that he investigated Navarro’s procedure and found that it was corrupt and being used to reward campaign supporters?

    To honor Navarro is sacrilege and disgraces the entirety of the law enforcement community. As to the Two Live Crew issue, Navarro insisted that appeal after appeal after appeal be prosecuted. In turn, Broward County sued Navarro and obtained a $90k judgement against him, which remains uncollected as of this date. Former county attorney, Alexander Cocallis offered an assignment of this judgment in the McNamara case. The federal court awarded $50k.

    The former Broward Review and New Times carried article after article on Navarro’s antics and corruption. Indeed, even Navarro’s Cuban credentials were suspect. Now, we honor this corrupt individual? Give me a break; please!

    John McNamara

  3. Joan Gonzalez says:

    I know no one will ever read this but I need to say it anyway. My son, John just showed me the palatial home Nick built and when he died never left anything to our three children, two of them who are blind.
    Rest in peace Nick
    Joan Gonzalez first wife.

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