Pembroke Park starting its own police force, replacing BSO

Town says move will save money and that its officers will be more ‘proactive’

Pembroke Park expects to save $600,000 a year by ending its contract with the Broward Sheriff's Office and creating its own police department.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – For the past 41 years, the Broward Sheriff’s Office has been the sole policing agency for the town of Pembroke Park.

But soon, new cops will be wearing new badges, rolling around in patrol cars emblazoned with the town symbol, as town leaders create their own police force.

The town of Pembroke Park is expecting to save $600,000 a year by ending its contract with BSO and creating its own police department.

“At this point, I think everything is really coming together, organized,” said David Howard, the newly appointed interim police chief. He’s helping to build and structure the department from scratch.

At least 18 people, including the chief, will make up the small police force. That includes a captain, a lieutenant, four sergeants, nine patrol officers and two civilian employees.

The goal is to make the switch this summer, though Howard said they would likely push past an Aug. 1 deadline.

“We’re gonna actually push that a little more,” he said. “The problem is gonna be in hiring the policemen.”

Big purchases need to be made, too. About 18 police vehicles, radios, firearms, uniforms and other protective gear. And money is needed for that staff and their benefits.

The annual cost is roughly $2.75 million dollars, which is still cheaper than the $3.3 million the town pays yearly for BSO’s services.

“We need a proactive law enforcement, and we haven’t had that,” Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs said. “We’ve had a really reactive one.”

Jacobs, a former law enforcement officer himself, says the change will allow residents to get to know the people behind the badge — while saving the town money.

“Residents should expect a very thorough and hardworking police department that’s going to be there as part of the community and not just there to enforce the laws,” the mayor said.

Said Howard: “I think what we can do is just better fit the needs of our community, and of course that’s gonna require a relationship with BSO.”

When reached for comment, the Broward Sheriff’s Office released the following statement: “It was a pleasure serving the residents and visitors of Pembroke Park for so many years. We certainly wish the town well during the transition period and much success in the future.”

Asked about the cost of their contract with Pembroke Park, BSO said, “any increases that have occurred over our years of service to the town have been within the limits set by the terms and conditions of the contract negotiated and accepted by Pembroke Park.”

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.