FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward’s Sheriff Scott Israel is hoping to build bridges with the county’s diverse 1.8 million residents.
In order to help his initiative, the Sheriff held the first ‘Uniting Broward Event’ Tuesday afternoon at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Ft. Lauderdale.
Hundreds of ministers, business owners and ordinary citizens packed the auditorium to listen to the Sheriff outline his goals for improving community relations.
During the presentation, a video was shown highlighting the new Community Outreach Team which has been created to troubleshoot problems when they surface and help find solutions.
It’s made up of non-uniform personnel who are connecting with community leaders, clergy and businesses to foster a good line of communication between BSO and the people they serve.
Israel said he has been focusing efforts on keeping kids out of jail—and it’s working.
“It costs $50,000 to keep a kid in jail, $4,800 to keep them out,” said the sheriff.
Minister Guillermo Delgado said he has seen a big shift in how deputies deal with people.
“I see the kids. We have a few neighborhood officers and they speak to them. I didn’t see that before,” said Delgado.
CBS4 News asked some of the attendees if there seems to be room for improvement.
“I would like to see more help for teenagers who are dealing with drugs and stuff like that,” said Beatrice Ullwood.
“I think it’s a good idea to help the homeless and people with mental issues on the street,” said a businessman in the crowd.
Sheriff Israel said the community partnership is working based on the peaceful reaction to the George Zimmerman trial when he was acquitted in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in central Florida.
Israel said he plans to hold many more Uniting Broward events in the coming months.