Before I begin this message, I want to take a moment to remember a beloved member of the Broward Sheriff’s Office family, Communications Operator III Nikima Thompson, who sadly lost her brave battle with COVID-19 on May 4. Nikima was a dedicated 16-year veteran of BSO and the first communications operator to die in the line of duty in Florida. We pay tribute to her sacrifice and honor her service to this community. She is survived by her mother, Geraldine Wilson, who is also battling COVID-19; her father, Herman Wilson; her sister, Gina Stewart; and her four children, Aran Jr., Isaiah, Justin and Heaven. Rest in peace, Nikima. You are greatly missed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major disruptions in our traditional way of life and resulted in tremendous hardships for many. For the past several months, we have confronted this unprecedented challenge. As we navigate these uncertain times, we do so having learned the power and value of community and the virtues of working together for a common good.
It has been truly remarkable to see the Broward community step up and come together as one. Friends and strangers alike have united, largely by staying apart, to help slow the spread of this deadly virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. The men and women of BSO share in that commitment. We play a unique and critical role in combatting this crisis. We are not only ensuring the safety of the public, but we are also extending our assistance beyond calls for service to provide support for the overall wellbeing of Broward County.
Let me tell you some ways BSO is meeting community needs:
• The pandemic has led to tough financial difficulties with many people struggling to provide the most basic food necessities for their families. BSO has established Operation Helping Hands whereby we partner with community-based organizations and Feeding South Florida to help provide groceries to those in need. We are also delivering food to the doorsteps of our senior citizens who are unable to leave their homes.
• We know through our community policing initiatives that small and simple acts of kindness can have huge and lasting impact. While social distancing has prevented us from coming together, we have been honored to participate in birthday parades and the like to ensure important milestones are not forgotten, and instead are occasions to remember. Similarly, we’ve participated in heartwarming displays of support for our hospital partners who are on the front lines fighting this virus with us. It has been an absolute pleasure to provide some joy and see the smiles these parades have brought.
• We have witnessed our deputies and other employees go above and beyond the call of duty to help others who are struggling. Recently, deputies observed a mother and her six-year-old son sleeping in their car. After learning they were homeless, the deputies got them a hotel room for the week and bought them groceries. As of our last contact with the woman, she was able to gain employment and is working toward getting on her feet. It’s an honor to work alongside such good and decent people.
• Our participation in the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been a long-standing tradition of ours to support Special Olympics. While the run was canceled this year, we still showed our love and support for these inspirational athletes and participated in virtual runs across the county. As an organization, we remain committed to supporting our community partners and will continue to find creative ways to do so.
These are just a few examples that demonstrate how together we accomplish more. These past few months have presented us with unexpected circumstances and challenges. While our commitment as an organization to work alongside this community to serve and meet their needs is not new, it is stronger now than ever before.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony