PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – As the clock ticks for Pembroke Park to secure police coverage before its contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office expires Saturday, one potential option is now off the table.
It also appears the town may be scrambling to get its startup in-house police department, scheduled to launch in 2023, up and running in mere days.
If nothing happens, the south Broward town of about 6,000 people will have no police patrolling its streets. BSO deputies would only respond to emergency calls, as dictated by state statute, and could be dispatched from anywhere in the county.
The interim chief of the Pembroke Park Police Department, which has seen delays getting off the ground and wasn’t supposed to launch until February, had met with officials in Miramar about patrolling the town in the interim.
But on Monday, officials in Miramar confirmed that the city’s police officers won’t be patrolling Pembroke Park.
“We can confirm that Miramar PD will not be able to fulfill the request for services at this time,” Miramar police spokesperson Tania Rues said. “This has been communicated to Pembroke Park officials.”
Police from other surrounding cities won’t be patrolling Pembroke Park either.
BSO deputies had patrolled Pembroke Park for more than four decades.
But the relationship between the town and the sheriff’s office has turned acrimonious, with the city choosing to start up its own police department amid claims of poor response times and inflated costs, something Sheriff Gregory Tony has disputed.
Town officials declined to sign a $3.4 million contract with BSO that would fill the gap between the expiration date and the launch of the police department.
“Continuing any contract with the sheriff’s office is a disservice to the town of Pembroke Park,” Pembroke Park Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs said at the Sept. 14 commission meeting.
Tony called that decision “irresponsible and irrational,” and said it would create a “lapse in necessary and critical police service” that will jeopardize public safety.
Town Attorney Melissa Anderson echoed those concerns at the Sept. 14 meeting.
“I don’t know what would happen if we had a serious incident in this town on October 2nd or October 1st, and I don’t want to find out that we don’t have adequate police services,” Anderson said.
A source tells Local 10 News that Interim Chief David Howard’s latest plan is to try to get the new PPPD up and running by Saturday, months ahead of the projected Feb. 2023 launch date.
Howard wasn’t available for an interview Monday because Local 10 News has been told he’s scrambling to get things done in days.
Pembroke Park commissioners are set to hold a special meeting Wednesday to approve money for uniforms and funds for bulletproof vests. Howard said he already has officers from other agencies lined up to hire, and four officers have already been hired and are performing administrative work.
The Wednesday meeting had been rescheduled for Friday due to Hurricane Ian but then rescheduled back to Wednesday.
On Tuesday, ahead of that meeting, the head of the International Union of Police Associations Local 6020, the union representing BSO deputies, sent a letter to Jacobs pushing back against claims of poor service and urging him to acc
“I call for you to cease your false claims and defamatory comments against the men and women of the I.U.P.A. Local 6020,” President Matt Cowart said. “Mayor Jacobs, with just days remaining before the Town of Pembroke Park will be without a police department, I urge you to protect the residents and renew the contract with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office at the Special Commission Meeting before it is too late.”
Full union letter to mayor:
Patrol cars for the new police department are already lined up and ready to go, but the question of connecting to the county’s 911 and radio systems remains.
Town leaders have remained adamant that they will find a solution that avoids a gap in police service.
Interactive map of BSO patrol areas:
‚Editor’s note: this article has been update to correct the date of the special meeting and note instances of rescheduling.