BROWARD (CBSMiami) – The Broward County Sheriff’s race is one of the most watched and contentious races in South Florida ahead of August 18 Florida primary election.
Six candidates are vying for the nomination and whoever wins will move onto the November election ballot, but in democratically rich Broward County, a win is likely in the general election.
“With no disrespect to anyone it’s a two-person race,” said Scott Israel.
Israel, the former sheriff, is trying to get back what he lost when Governor Ron DeSantis removed him two years ago.
Israel was criticized for his handling of the Parkland school massacre and the deadly Ft. Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport shooting.
DeSantis replaced him with Gregory Tony, a former Coral Springs police sergeant.
“This race is about the entire community,” said Tony.
Tony has been under attack for months since revelations he killed a man when he was 14 growing up in a drug infested inner city Philadelphia neighborhood. He says it was self-defense and he was cleared.
“The political nature is to be nasty and slanderous, but this is a public safety organization and we need to focus on presenting the facts and what we have accomplished from our real-time crime center to our training center and even giving the best raise in 25 years and what we are doing about police accountability when it comes to all the reform efforts we took on last year,” said Tony.
Scott Israel says morale is low in the agency he was first elected to in 2012.
“BSO is a mess and there’s a mess to clean up, he said. “I was the most visible sheriff Broward ever had. My saying was ‘Let’s measure our success by the kids we keep out of jail, not the kids we put in jail’,” Israel told CBS4 while campaigning on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s a two-man race, it’s a three-man race,” said Democratic challenger Al Pollock.
Pollock has union support. He spent 40 years with BSO before retiring in 2017. He was a detective, watch commander and colonel.
“I know the inner workings of this agency. I know what it takes to get the men and women going in the right direction,” he said.
Restoring morale is the center of Andrew Smalling’s campaign for sheriff. He spent 20 years with BSO and was a Lauderhill police chief who emphasized community policing.
“The sheriff’s office has been through enough turmoil through the last two sheriffs and we could do a lot better,” said Smalling.
Santiago Vasquez, a 23 year BSO veteran who served as a deputy, detective and community relations officer says he’d establish a community awareness response team.
“We are gonna make sure deputies who do boots to the ground are going to step out of their vehicles and talk to the community, said Vasquez.
Willie Jones is making a second run for sheriff where he spent 15 years.
“President Obama’s police task force that talks about the best policing practices for the 21st century, if they had taken 60 percent of that, we could have eliminated a lot of the problems we are having with our communities,” Jones said.
There is also a Republican primary for the Broward Sheriff position.
The two Republican candidates are H. Wayne Clark and Casimiro Navarro.
Charles E. Whatley is also on the primary ballot. He is running with no party affiliation.