BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Friction between Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony and the Broward Deputies Association boiled over in recent weeks. The flashpoint — union criticism of when BSO handed out personal protective equipment to deputies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s one of the reasons the union held a no confidence vote on Sheriff Tony over the past several days. The union, which has more than 1,200 members, announced Monday that of the 786 members who voted, 88%, or 693 members, said they do not have confidence in the sheriff.
“This is a symbolic vote,” said Union Secretary/Treasurer Frank Voudy. “We know nothing happens today. But the voice of our members were heard.”
Voudy said much of the discontent surrounds PPE.
“I was issued my PPE kit today,” he said. “I was first issued my mask the week of March 22. Stuff is slowly rolling out to the districts, only when we became vocal about it.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office released a statement from Tony following news of the vote.
“I want to say to the deputies, I hear your concerns,” the statement reads. “Following today’s vote, my commitment is unwavering and our mission remains clear. It’s time to unite and work together to continue providing the highest level of professional public safety services to our Broward County community.”
The union, one of seven that represents BSO employees, also says that Tony was wrong to suspend Union President Jeff Bell for complaining about the situation with PPE. They also criticize Tony for his handling of some employee discipline cases, like firing Deputy Christopher Krickovich for his actions during the rough arrest of a teen outside a Tamarac McDonald’s last year. Krickovich was seen on video slamming a teenager’s head into the ground. A panel determined that Krickovich should be cleared but Tony fired him.
“He didn’t follow due process the way it should be,” Voudy said.
But Tony has made clear that he stands on his record. When he announced the decision on Krickovich last year, Tony gave CBS4 News insight into why he did it.
“We don’t have policy that provides deputies an opportunity to slam someone’s face into the ground,” Tony explained last December.
Tony also recently pushed back on the criticism about equipment for the deputies during the pandemic. He said PPE is handed out weekly to BSO’s district offices, Fire Rescue personnel, Department of Detention deputies and civilian employees. Tony also said that the agency has spent $1.3 million on PPE and that safety teams regularly meet with each BSO district.
In Monday’s statement Tony said, “The command staff and I have worked tirelessly to keep all the men and women of BSO safe during this unprecedented pandemic. We have established procedures to limit exposure to COVID-19 in all areas of operations and have worked to give all of the BSO family the necessary tools to protect themselves as we continue to protect the community.”
The union says they might ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove Tony from office. DeSantis chose Tony to replace former Sheriff Scott Israel in January 2019.