FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – When he was elected Broward County’s new sheriff last month, Scott Israel promised change in the agency.
It’s already happening.
25 people have submitted their resignations. Ten are members of outgoing Sheriff Al Lamberti’s command team.
They include External Affairs chief Art Santucci, Legal counsel Mila Schwartzreich and the head of the courthouse deputies Scott Gooding.
Also departing is the head of media relations, Jim Leljedal.
Leljedal has been with the agency for 29 years.
“They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s been fun for the most part,” Leljedal told CBS 4 Reporter Joan Murray on Monday just before he submitted his resignation letter. “I had two passions. One was for news the other was law enforcement. I’ve been able to do both and for that I’m grateful.”
The former news reporter eventually graduated from the police academy after joining the BSO public information office nearly three decades ago.
When he wasn’t answering reporter questions Leljedal was making arrests.
A father of three, Leljedal said his wife feels it’s a good time to make a change but his kids are worried about his future.
“I don’t know what comes next after 29 years, but I think there is something more out there to do,” said Leljedal.
Reflecting on the five sheriffs he worked for over three decades, Leljedal said, “Al is the most qualified. To start out as a grunt in the jail, his knowledge and understanding of this monster is unparalled.”
BSO employs some six-thousand people and Leljedal acknowledges that being sheriff is an enormous job: policing 14 cities, 9 fire departments, and overseeing 5,000 jail inmates.
He said he doesn’t know what’s next but that he takes away some great memories.
“I don’t know all 6,000 people here but I’ve gotten to know at least 1,000 and I will miss them,” he said.
So what will the new Broward Sheriff’s Office look like under Scott Israel? Jeff Marano is part of the transition team.
Marano is the incoming president of the Police Benevolent Association the union representing the deputies.
“It wasn’t so much Al Lamberti himself but the people he surrounded himself with that drew criticism from the rank and file,” said Marano.
Marano said Israel will handle discipline problems differently and off-duty details will only be open to deputies, sergeants and lieutenants, no upper command personnel.
“I think Scott will be more accountable to the public than Sheriff Al Lamberti was,” added Marano. “I think the number one thing he will do is empower the first line supervisors, the sergeants. That means deputies on patrol will be able to make decisions. That’s been a basic fundamental in police work lacking in the current administration.”
Scott Israel will be sworn in as sheriff on January 8th.