BROWARD (CBSMiami) – After documented failures during the Parkland shooting and the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, a state commission stripped BSO of its coveted law enforcement accreditation earlier this year. Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said the effect on the agency was potent.
“It killed morale,” Tony told CBS4 News in his first interview discussing the accreditation. “It’s not something that you ever want to have revoked because it embarrasses the agency and it puts the agency in a point where the confidence of the state and the commission isn’t there.”
In a letter to the commission dated in early September, Tony made his initial plea for an earlier opportunity to seek reaccreditation, saying accreditation “symbolizes professionalism and excellence” and “the loss of our accreditation was a tremendous blow to the hard working and dedicated law enforcement personnel of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”
Tony admitted that he understood the loss of accreditation due to “identified serious flaws in command structure and response protocols” during the Parkland and airport incidents but he argued that changes have been made since Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him sheriff in January replacing suspended former Sheriff Scott Israel. In the letter, Tony laid out his case for reconsideration.
“While the previous sheriff argues in the Florida State Senate that his deputies failed him, my priority was to appoint a responsible and competent command staff and to immediately enhance training and equipment relevant to critical incident response and management. A properly trained and led team will not fail,” Tony wrote, adding that deputies now “report to a dedicated and well-trained command cadre, are provided the training and equipment required to support effective critical response protocols, understand their role in immediate threat/trauma mitigation, and how to properly execute those roles.”
Last week, Tony traveled to St. Petersburg to testify before the Florida Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, asking them to allow BSO to apply for reaccreditation 18 months earlier than expected.
“This entire state was embarrassed because of BSO because of our agency’s failure and I’ve had to step in and absorb that and I give you my word that we will not embarrass this organization or this state or our law enforcement brother and sisters who put their lives on the line across this entire country,” Tony told the commission in audio provided to CBS4 News by the commission.
Tony said he pointed to specific changes in his effort to allow BSO to seek reaccreditation, like enhanced and increased active shooter training and training for school resource officers, enhanced weapons systems for deputies to respond to active threats, a new Real Time Crime Center and purchasing stop-the-bleed kits for Broward schools. Tony also highlighted his efforts in pushing forward the long-awaited multi-million dollar Regional Training Center to be based at the main BSO campus near Fort Lauderdale.
“We’ll have state of the art shooting facilities, classrooms, all types of technologies,” he explained.
Tony believes these demonstrated changes convinced the commission to unanimously approve his request.
“When you put all that information out there and show that we’ve made these changes it was compelling for the commission to consider my testimony,” Tony said.
Commission Member Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley made it clear from audio of last week’s meeting that he approves of Tony’s efforts.
“We thank you because we never want that to happen again, ever,” Ashley said.
Tony said accreditation helps BSO meet high quality professional standards, apply for grants and be accountable to the community.
“It was the right thing to do for the morale of this agency and making sure that from public safety standpoint we would be able to have access to the funding that may exist in the federal world and just quite frankly cleaning this place up 100 percent,” Tony said.
The commission will review BSO’s policies and practices as well as observe the agency in the field beginning next March.
“(The accreditation process) makes sure that policies and procedures are up to standards and that you are doing what you say you’re doing,” said Danielle Terrell, Executive Director of the Florida Accreditation Office, making law enforcement agencies “better, more professional agencies.”