Pembroke Park talks to Miramar about policing; bad blood with BSO boils over plan B

If no agreement reached, town will be left with no law enforcement presence when BSO contract expires

Pembroke Park’s interim police chief tells Local 10 News he’s confident the town won’t have a gap in police service once the town’s contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office expires Oct. 1, but, as of Friday, there’s still no plan in place.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Pembroke Park’s interim police chief tells Local 10 News he’s confident the town won’t have a gap in police service once the town’s contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office expires Oct. 1, but, as of Friday, there’s still no plan in place to provide law enforcement services to the town of about 6,000 people.

As Local 10 News reported Thursday, the contract expiry will leave the town without any officers or sheriff’s deputies patrolling the town, with BSO providing only emergency response as mandated by Florida law.

Pembroke Park’s long-delayed startup police department isn’t supposed to be ready to launch in February—and the town hasn’t negotiated a backup deal with BSO or a neighboring municipality to provide policing.

Deputies could be sent from any part of the county, and Sheriff Gregory Tony warned the town of increased response times to 911 calls.

Additionally, non-emergency calls, like noise complaints, suspicious persons, and minor car crashes may simply not get a response, a source said.

The town is choosing to break with BSO after 42 years over complaints of long response times under the multi-million-dollar contract.

Pembroke Park Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs, who, during town commission meetings, has made no bones about his disdain for BSO and Tony, has said he’s willing to take the risk that comes with letting the contract expire.

Local 10 News has learned that Interim Chief David Howard met with the Miramar Police Department in an effort to get that city’s officers to temporarily patrol the town in the interim, but no agreement has been reached.

Howard and Local 10 News Investigative Reporter Jeff Weinsier had this exchange Friday:

Howard: “We’re going to have protection.”

Weinsier: “But you don’t.”

Howard: “But I do. Just ‘cause I’m not going to tell you doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen."

Weinsier: "Is there anything signed today?"

Howard: "Not today."

Weinsier: "You are confident there will be?"

Howard: "Of course."

Pembroke Park Interim Police Chief David Howard and Local 10 Investigative Reporter Jeff Weinsier, Sept. 23

If negotiations with Miramar don’t pan out, Pembroke Park will have to hire off-duty officers from other jurisdictions to patrol the town.

Howard wanted to hire off-duty BSO deputies to patrol in the interim.

“I’m willing to pay for the deputies,” he said. “It makes sense to use deputies because the computer systems and everything else that is current-day law enforcement is in place.”

But the sheriff’s office pushed back.

In an email, Undersheriff Nichole Anderson called the idea “unrealistic,” saying off-duty assignments are voluntary, with no staffing guarantees, no supervisors and no backup, putting deputies at risk:

“Chief Howard,

Please accept this email as a response to the Town’s inquiry about mutual aid, and your request for two special detail deputies to provide patrol services in the Town following the expiration of the police services contract.

First, it is not necessary for the Town to have a separate agreement with West Park for mutual aid. The Broward Sheriff’s Office provides police services for West Park and BSO is a party to the mutual aid agreement. The Town should understand that mutual aid is not a substitute for its obligations to provide police services to its residents, businesses, and visitors. The use of mutual aid impacts the resources that are available for the protection of the residents of the municipality from which the aid is requested. Given the fact that the Town does not yet have the capability to offer aid to other participants of the mutual aid agreement, it appears that the Town is seeking to utilize the limited resources of its neighboring jurisdictions via “mutual” aid to fill in its gap in police services, which is not what the agreement was intended to remedy.

Second, as with every municipality that we provide services to, the ability to offer aid when requested depends on the terms of the MAA and the availability of resources. The mutual aid agreement is for the limited purpose of providing assistance when requested for ‘forcible felonies’ when immediate response is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm, or substantial property loss; searching for fugitives or missing person when necessary to protect persons or property from imminent threat; and other spontaneous incidents when necessary to avoid or quell a major calamity affecting the safety or persons or property. To the extent that the Town requests mutual aid from BSO that falls into these categories and resources are available to respond, BSO will provide such aid which may include units assigned to West Park. BSO will not provide mutual aid for requests that are outside the terms of the mutual aid agreement, such as routine calls for service and traffic accident investigations (excluding first aid and traffic control involving serious injury). Further, the Town should understand that BSO is not the exclusive agency to offer such aid, and it must also look to other participating agencies when aid is needed. Lastly, a mutual aid request is not automatic and must be requested by a member of the Pembroke Park Police Department when needed.

Regarding your request for two special detail deputies to provide police patrol in the Town, such a request highlights the fact that the Town is completely unprepared to provide police services to its residents on October 1, 2022. At the last commission meeting, the Mayor assured the Town’s residents that he had a plan in place to cover the gap in police services should the contract not be renewed. This last-minute request to hire special detail deputies to provide patrol services for the Town makes it readily apparent that the Mayor had no such plan in place, highlighting the recklessness of this decision that will have a detrimental impact on the Town’s residents.

Further, the use special detail deputies for patrol in the Town is not a realistic solution to the situation that the Town is now facing. First, special detail assignments are voluntary and BSO could not provide any assurance that these positions could be staffed even partially. Second, two deputies patrolling the Town without supervision and available back-up is a serious safety concern. BSO will not place deputies at unnecessary risk by filling these voluntary details.

Finally, the Broward Sheriff’s Office needs to understand the Town’s plan for receiving dispatched calls for service after October 1. Specifically, when a call for service is received at a Public Safety Answering Point, BSO Regional Communications needs to know the Town’s plan for monitoring the radio system on a 24/7 basis and assigning units in response to routine and priority calls. Such a plan is essential to limit the potential delays that will be caused due to any confusion on where to direct these calls. This matter is further exacerbated due to the significantly shortened lead time. The CAD system has not yet been programmed to properly log in-service Pembroke Park Police Department officers and call assignments. To that end, please contact Col. Oscar Llerena, copied here, no later than close of business on Monday, September 26, 2022, to address this critical public safety issue.”

Email from BSO Undersheriff Nichole Anderson to Pembroke Park Interim Police Chief David Howard, Sept. 23

Howard wrote back to Anderson, saying her email was full of “inconsistencies.”

In his reply, Howard said “it is clear to me that Tony’s Sheriff’s Office has no regard for public safety.”

It underscores the bad blood that’s brewed between town leadership and BSO over the years:

Deputy Anderson,

Thank you for quick response. I am not sure who wrote your email however it is filled with inconsistencies so please allow me to address them as best I can.

We do not need a separate agreement for mutual aid from West Park, however you told me in your letter dated on November 8, 2021 that we did so, that’s why I requested it.

I am aware of what “Mutual Aid” is defined as and at no point have I asked for anything more. I am requesting the exact same services that you might provide for cities such as Lighthouse Point or Miramar. Nothing more! I have been requesting this document to be signed for almost two years now. Typically, it has been met with sarcasm by your Attorney Mr. Futch (I can provide the email if needed) . Only a few days ago we were advised by Mr. Lynch that once we sign it, “ just send it over!”

The hiring of deputies in an “extra duty” capacity happens daily, the fact that you are refusing to allow Pembroke Park to do the same as a request from a mall or gated community as an additional public safety resource for our community speaks volumes about BSO’s commitment to public safety. This request is in the shadow of Tony’s public statement that he will decide what calls will be responded to and how long the 911 calls will wait.

I understand MMA regarding paragraph two; however, I also know that even if we request the services of BSO you will not come. I am sure we will have a need at some point in the future to request your services and if the current leadership is still in-place, But I will have this email and I will make sure anyone who wants it will be provided with it as well.

Regarding paragraph three - are you denying extra duty deputies to Pembroke Park and if so on what basis. As stated above, anyone in Broward can hire a deputy, except Pembroke Park. Or was that line an attempt to attack the Mayor? Why even mention it if we can’t hire deputies? The primary reason I requested it is due to CAD and RMS specifically. No other agency in Broward can see our city within their systems so it is an officer safety issue if deputies don’t do it. As they won’t have pertinent information regarding the incident etc., This is about public safety so please state what reason you have to not meet our request.

Paragraph four states you do not supervise your extra duty deputies. That is unbelievable and poor management on your part, but I accept your reason. I also understand that you can’t assure that two deputies could even sign up to work but isn’t that a risk in every extra duty detail? But I did not know you did not supervise your detail officers. Besides, doesn’t your current General Order 3.16.4(c) only require a supervisor when three or more deputies work a detail? But since you mentioned it, Pembroke Park would request a Sergeant and an Officer or two Sergeants, I find it sad that you’ll ok deputies work in bars but not in our Town.

Regarding Paragraph five – Please stop with the communications questions. WE DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE! This is state statute and a mandatory requirement (I can provide it if you don’t have it) I am also aware of your agency is passing out memos etc to your Dispatch Personnel. This is dangerous and jeopardizing public safety. Let me assure you that when we are live you and Colonel Llerena will be notified by myself. As far as the CAD is concerned, I will contact the Colonel however I am in daily contact with ORCAT and are aware of the issues. Col Oscar, please provide a working number for you and I will reach out prior to the imposed deadline of the Undersheriff.

You don’t need to respond or have your attorney respond this is about public safety and regardless of what the politicians did or are going to do it is clear to me that Tony’s Sheriff’s Office has no regard for public safety.

Thank you for taking the time of at least responding.

Email reply from Howard to Anderson, Sept. 23

When asked what he’d say to business owners and residents of Pembroke Park, Howard told Local 10 News that “everything is going to be fine.”

Pembroke Park Commissioner William Hodgkins voted to renew BSO’s contract for a year and said he’s heard from concerned residents and business owners.

“I’m telling them to cross their fingers and toes, everything else, because the only answer was that contract, as far as I’m concerned,” Hodgkins said.

“‘Cross your fingers’ is pretty scary,” Weinsier replied.

“‘Cross your fingers is really scary, I agree, 100%” Hodgkins said.

Howard said he has officers lined up and is ready to hire them as soon as the town budget is approved next month, but still doesn’t have an official launch date for the Pembroke Park Police Department.

Interactive map of BSO patrol areas:

About the Authors:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.