FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward County Commission meeting got a bit testy on Tuesday night when a commissioner got into a shouting match with Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony.
That commissioner, Mark Bogen, discussed the heated exchange with Local 10 News on Wednesday afternoon.
He said he didn’t know how bad the issues at the 911 call centers were until he read about it in the newspaper.
Bogen now says the issues need to be fixed as soon as possible.
“I tried to talk to Sheriff Tony privately about it, he didn’t want to hear about it, so I brought it up at the commission meeting and obviously he didn’t like my comments,” Bogen told Local 10 News’ Sanela Sabovic. “He took it personally. This is business and in business, you have to look at the problems and it starts at the top.”
A big problem for BSO is that the number of dispatchers is down, with vacancies at nearly 20 percent. It’s an issue that has left some 911 calls unanswered.
Bogen said that while problems did start years ago during former Sheriff Scott Israel’s tenure, his commission didn’t know how bad the issues were until recently.
“We are not in the call center, so we are hoping the vendor, whoever the vendor is, it’s the sheriff, we are hoping they come to us and say hey we’ve got problems, we are short staffed, we are understaffed, underpaid, we don’t hear that at all until a newspaper article comes out,” Bogen said.
Tony spoke to commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting about ways to fix the issue.
“We want to have dispatchers, personnel, that are the best of the best, that can handle this job,” Tony said, suggesting salary increases, more staff, and a new call center.
Contrarily, Bogen believes 911 communications need to be taken away from BSO’s control.
“We have great people working in our 911 call center, dedicated people that need to be paid more money, but we need to change management to solve these problems,” he said.
In the end, commissioners decided to draft a proposal to give $4.7 million to BSO, a short-term solution that still needs a second vote.
That second vote should take place on May 24.
Local 10 News reached out to Tony to get his response, and his office said he said everything he needed to say during Tuesday meeting.