Earlier this week, the Broward Sheriff’s Office posted a single photo on the agency’s Twitter account. It read: “Our new #dodge #charger. Do you like the paint job?”
Thousands of Twitter users did not like the paint job.
“Maybe that money could be used to have hired a other (sic) officer to better protect the 50% of public schools in Broward County that do not have a full time officer protecting it…” was the first comment on the post, from a man named Matt. “Yup. Tone deafness level: 11” read another. “It’s gonna look so cool parked outside the next building your officers refuse to enter.”
The tweets are referring to the deadly Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead and 17 injured. In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that MSD Resource Officer Scot Peterson had stood outside the building where inside 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz gunned down his classmates and teachers. Peterson never went inside to confront him, and additional documents suggest multiple BSO deputies knew the location of the shooter but did not rush in to confront Cruz.
Tweets on BSO’s account typically generate about ten replies and retweets. This one spurred almost 5,000 responses, most of them negative. No one could seem to fathom how the department could spend money on a flashy new car and paint job when so many schools remained unprotected by deputies. So where did the money for the car come from?
Many of the Twitter users brought up civil forfeiture funds, which the department generates from confiscating the cars during drug busts. But the money for this car actually came from a 2017 contract, according to BSO Public Information Officer Keyla Concepcion. The contract yielded 100 vehicles for the agency’s fleet. All patrol vehicles come with factory green paint, and agency signage, such as the white doors and the logo, is then added, she said. But because this car will be used for traffic enforcement, the agency chose a different color for the signage. The rest of the fleet will be used to replace old vehicles.
The agency did not respond to the tweet’s uproar.
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In addition to the controversy surrounding the MSD shooting, which is still under investigation, the agency is busy with a handful of other recent developments. It launched a drone fleet this week, with each full setup costing about $3,000 per officer who is given one. Questions of surveillance arose amid the program’s deployment, but the agency has stressed that the drones are not used for surveillance and are used to protect the public.
The agency is also in the middle of investigating the high profile murder of south Florida rapper XXXTentacion. And the agency has also recently been sued for the fatal shooting of Gregory Frazier.
Since the MSD shooting, some schools have been assigned school resource officers. But BSO has yet to station deputies at every school.
“Does the paint job show the names of those killed because of your incompetence and cowardice?” one tweet challenged. “Who cares about the car?”