NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Wednesday marked 100 days in office for Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, whom voters elected to replace long time Sheriff Al Lamberti.
Sheriff Israel, who leads a team of 6000 law enforcement officers and emergency personnel, said BSO has renewed its efforts to go after violent criminals by beefing up its warrants and VIPER (Violence Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response) teams.
“Studies show us that approximately 6 percent of criminals commit approximately 65 percent of the violent crimes. We want to go after those 6 percent,” said Sheriff Israel.
With a new administration settled into place, the Sheriff says he’s seen a huge improvement in moral, saying the “good ole’ boy network” once said to be in place no longer exists.
“We took over an agency with saggy morale and now morale has gone through the roof! Five of our top leaders on this department now, two colonels and two lt. colonels and a major are African American. They weren’t promoted because they were African American, they were promoted because they’re the best of the best.”
Changing the culture hasn’t been easy, he said. In his first weeks in the BSO Headquarters Complex, he found staffers who were afraid to ride the elevator with him.
“That’s the attitude we’re trying to change,” he said.
The Sheriff is a huge football fan. Helmets line the furniture outside his office. He continues his love of the game, left over from his college football days, by coaching young athletes at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Sheriff said he wants to be measured by the numbers of young people he keeps out of jail, not locks up.
“I’ve changed the policy,” he said. ”We’re not going to let one mistake at 13, 14 or 15 change your life in a negative way.”
Israel has now mandated all deputies issue civil citations to young people accused of non-violent, non-felony crimes.
Protecting senior citizens is another priority with BSO helping the elderly dispose of financial documents to avoid identity theft, and unwanted medications.
“We don’t want them to get rid of it through flushing it down the toilet or through the sink because it hurts our water, want to collect the pills to destroy them properly. Then, we ask the seniors to bring their paperwork and we shred their paperwork,” said Israel.
Israel said he doesn’t want to be a micromanager. Instead, he wants BSO talent to shine on its own.
“We are going to make mistakes and we’ll deal with them,” said Israel. “My job is to evaluate how the leaders are doing and if we have to make changes, we’ll make changes.”
He’s also trying to clean up BSO’s finances, citing past problems with a top-heavy administration and some “questionable golden parachutes,” as he puts it, handed out by the last Sheriff’s administration.
“Usually there’s a surplus expected when one Sheriff transitions to another administration. These roll over funds were depleted by the prior administration, but we’re dealing with it. We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward.”