PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Less than a year after the Pembroke Park Police Department launched, ending decades of patrols by Broward sheriff’s deputies, the town has already lost nearly half of its officers.
That includes the town’s police chief, who was fired in May, months after the department began serving the south Broward town of about 6,000 people.
“I don’t like to look at the past,” police Maj. Ra Shana Dabney-Donovan said. “I like to look at the future.”
Dabney-Donovan has taken over as the agency’s interim chief.
“We have 11 sworn personnel at the current moment,” Dabney-Donovan said. “We are focused on finding the best-qualified candidates.”
The town had 20 sworn officers when it started.
Town officials voted to do away with its contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in 2022 after they decided an in-house police force could handle 911 responses and police work better and more cheaply than deputies had.
Despite the staffing challenges, the town’s mayor praised the department’s remaining officers.
“(Residents) are very safe,” Mayor Ashira Mohammed said. ”(Police) are doing a wonderful job in the community. They are actively engaging the community.”
Mohammed acknowledged that there are morale issues within the department.
Dabney-Donovan said she would like to stay as chief and said the town’s police force is still on the streets.
“We’re out there, we’re answering calls, we’re making sure that we’re assisting in road patrol duties, as well,” she said.
The town has also been mired in turmoil over the actions of one of its commissioners.
An outside investigation, requested by fellow commissioners, found that Commissioner Geoffrey Jacobs engaged in an extensive series of “threatening, humiliating, or intimidating behaviors.”
Jacobs was once the town’s mayor.
Town commissioners were scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Thursday evening to discuss that new report.