DeSantis will let voters decide on Sheriff Tony after Broward deputies union asks for his removal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Hours after a protest called for the firing of Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony on Thursday, the Broward Sheriff’s Deputies Union formally wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking for Tony’s removal.

The governor, though, doesn’t plan to intervene and will let voters decide later this year who they want to be their sheriff, a DeSantis spokeswoman told Local 10 News.

Broward voters will begin to have their say in the Aug. 18 Democratic primary election.

Protesters were outside Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters again Friday morning calling for Tony’s removal and the reinstatement of Ron Thurston, a popular longtime deputy who had his badge taken this week after he criticized the diversity within the department.

“The request to formally ask the Governor to remove Gregory Tony was made out of necessity for the 5,000 Union members at the Broward Sheriff’s Office who come to work knowing that their boss is unqualified during a time of national emergency and epidemic,” union president Jeff Bell, who has been suspended by Tony, said in a statement Thursday.

Bell went on to write that, “If Gregory Tony were to accurately and honestly complete a Law Enforcement Officer job application today with all of the information the public has learned over the past two months, he would have a near impossible time finding a Law Enforcement job anywhere in the Nation."

Tony declined to comment on the letter from the deputies union or Thurston on Friday morning.

Tony was appointed as Broward sheriff by DeSantis in January 2019 after the governor removed Scott Israel in the fallout of the Parkland massacre.

Tony and Israel are both candidates in the election for the position later this year. Both are Democrats.

Tony’s campaign said politics were the reason for Thursday’s protest that centered around calls for the reinstatement of Thurston.

“Yet again, Scott Israel’s campaign just can’t be honest,” Tony’s campaign said in a statement. “This was a political event organized by Scott Israel’s paid political consultants, and attended by political opponents of Sheriff Tony and Scott Israel himself.”

One of the demonstrators Friday said that the gathering was not a political rally for Israel. “This is community standing up for justice, for an [unjust] act, by an unjust sheriff,” he said.

In April, members of the deputies union voted no confidence in Tony, largely stemming from an alleged shortage of personal protective equipment early in the coronavirus outbreak. (Israel also received a vote of no-confidence from the union before his removal.)

Since then, details of Tony’s past have emerged, including his killing a man during his teenage years in what was deemed self-defense. Questions have also come up about how truthful and forthcoming Tony was on job applications and law enforcement forms.

Read the letter the union sent to DeSantis below:

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