With news that a consulting firm has found that the City of Pompano Beach can save millions of dollars by dropping the Broward Sheriff's Office and reinstituting its own police force, a Broward sheriff's spokesman says city officials should think twice before dropping BSO.
"We don't think anybody can do it better," BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal told me today. "I haven't looked at the [consultant's] report, and I don't know that it takes into account all the support people needed to run a police department. You're not just hiring cops. There's records people, human resources people, payroll people, dispatchers. There's an awful lot of people you need."
The consulting firm hired by Pompano, California-based Willdan Homeland Solutions, met with individual commissioners last week and told each of them that there would be savings in leaving BSO. The final report will be unveiled at a City Commission meeting on July 21, followed by a public hearing.
Mayor Lamar Fisher said he commissioned the study due an "outcry" from the public over the level of service with BSO and a desire to go back to a hometown police force (Pompano was "absorbed" by BSO about ten years ago). The consulting firm "wasn't too specific," Fisher said, "but they thought there would be definite cash savings."
The mayor said he hadn't made up his mind either way and wanted to weigh the evidence presented in the final report. He did say that should Pompano break from the sheriff, BSO would still be obligated to provide the city with helicopters, crime scene technicians, and other services. He also said that if it happened, the city would have to float a bond, which would require voters' support. "We just want to make sure we're providing the residents with the best services at the best cost," Fisher said.
-- In other sheriff-related news, I confirmed the fifth suicide at the jail in the past year. Steven Florio, a 46-year-old man Hollywood man, hanged himself with a bedsheet in his cell on May 22 at about 4 a.m. Florio was found by a deputy on the floor of his cell, the sheet tied to the top bunk of his bed. Florio, unlike the latest suicide, wasn't in on a murder charge. He had been booked into the jail three days prior to his death on a felony charge of possession of alprazolam, or Xanax. The case wasn't made public by BSO. In fact, the State Attorney's Office didn't even know about the death, as prosecutors officially filed the Xanax case against Florio on June 8 -- more than two weeks after he died.