FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) -For the first time, incoming Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and outgoing Sheriff Al Lamberti appeared together in public, shaking hands and saying they are working together for a “smooth transition.”
“I think it’s great,” said Israel. “I can call the Sheriff anytime and work with him directly.”
Israel again said there would be no large scale bloodbaths among the rank and file at BSO after he is sworn in on January 8th but he was somewhat more specific about changes that can be expected for the 6,000 member agency.
“I’m going to bring in different people,” he told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “Different colonels and different commanders. Most people will not be affected but certainly as a leader I need to bring in people who I am comfortable with that I’ve worked with before and who I am familiar with. There is an incredible amount of talent here, but certainly I am going to move people around and hire new people and bring in new people. Some people have already retired or resigned. But to use the term significant or blood bath. There will be nothing like that.”
Many in BSO remember the dozens of employees who lost jobs in 1993 after Sheriff Ron Cochran made changes after he upset Sheriff Nick Navarro in September of 1992. That led to a lawsuit against BSO and Cochran by the employees who lost their jobs.
Israel told CBS4’s Ted Scouten in November that, “We will have change. Change is best done quickly when you know it’s inevitable, so we’ll make some changes and move forward. The command staff will look different. If I wasn’t prepared to make changes and I wanted to keep the same staff that my predecessor had, I wouldn’t have run for office.”
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench asked Israel if there was animosity between him and Lamberti after their campaign.
“We ran against each other twice,” said Israel. “It is not easy to run an election in Broward County. I can only answer from my side. I have no animosity towards Sheriff Lamberti. I have nothing but positive things to say about him. But you can ask him yourself. He is right here.”
Lamberti then stepped forward and said, “This was the Obama Romney lunch without the lunch.”
He was referring to their meeting at BSO headquarters. Israel had said he was facing a major road block in putting his plans into place because Sheriff Lamberti had not allowed him and his transition team to set up shop in the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters. Lamberti had said he did not want non-employees opening an office and working inside a building that requires security access.
“We’re not in the building,” Israel said on Monday, “but Sheriff Lamberti’s General Counsel has been very receptive and responsive. Sheriff Lamberti has taken copious notes on what we have been asking for. We had a very productive conversation today. We will have a smooth transition. Sheriff Lamberti told me about some key issues as he passes the baton.”
Lamberti sad, “Contrary to popular belief, there has been a transition going on since the first week of November. So let’s put to rest any rumors that there is no transition going on. I’m proud of being the first sheriff to come up through the ranks.”
“No one person is bigger than the agency,” said Lamberti. “That’s what we talked about and I am proud to have served the people of Broward County for the past 5 years. It’s the Sheriff’s Office, not the Al Lamberti Sheriff’s Office. It’s about the 6,000 people who work here every day.”
“We’re not going to be able to elevate if we do not communicate, so there has to be total communication,” Israel said. “I asked Sheriff Lamberti for documents and he said he would work on them immediately. I want to thank him for the professionalism he has shown in the past 5 years. I’m excited and looking forward to leading the county for the next 4 years and God willing longer.”
Lamberti and Israel discussed priorities, such as improving the county’s communication and 911 system.
“That is the largest priority next year,” said Lamberti. “We also had a very frank discussion about the pitfalls that he will immediately face when he takes office.”
Another focus is curbing burglaries, which is a big concern in Broward.
“I’ve be a tactical person all my life,” said Israel. “I want to be more pro-active.”
Israel had said in November that he promised swift change in how the agency deals with juvenile criminals.
“I want to get to work on a robust civil citation program,” he said in November. “Where if do arrest a juvenile or we do give a juvenile a civil citation that their lives aren’t ruined and they can still compete for jobs down the road.”
Lamberti has been with the Broward Sheriff’s Office for 35 years. He told D’Oench that he is not sure what his future plans are or if he’ll stay in law enforcement.
He also plans to keep his sense of humor.
D’Oench asked him, “What do you plan to do now?”
Lamberti responded, “Become a TV reporter.”