A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER
But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 (NASB)
From Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
We cannot predict the future. But we can create it. This quote was delivered by Ilya Prigogine who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977. We as a people stand in the doorway of no return and this is not our first time.
The news of late has been like steeping back into time as we read of police shootings of unarmed Black people and Covid-19 wreaking havoc on Black people as if it were the Tuskegee experiments on steroids.
Another mischarge of justice is waiting in the wings like an attack animal positioning itself to pounce on its victim, is the consideration of the entire election process my mail.
All of the afford mentions deserved their own time and space for deliberation.
My task at hand is to offer a view of an impending deliberate attempt to remind those of us who have a personal connection to what being Black is all abiut. I’m not speaking of an assumed appointed position because you might have favored someone or a particular group. I’m talking about, “IF YOU’RE BLACK GET BACK!”
For this column or piece I have asked different people in the Black community to give me some questions to ask our sitting Broward County Sheriff, Gregory Tony, who is ‘Black’ by birth and not given the title ceremoniously.
Never mind how he got the position; however, what he has done while in the position that would rush a miss interpretation of the law from nonlegal minds, naysayers and those who hate for no other reasons besides he is Black and let’s not forget the sabotages; now, he finds himself perhaps dressed in the defense of: He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.
This task will require nothing other than the human characteristic of “being wrong” for both and all parties concern to be forgiving.
I ask that we do not forget where we all have come from and to remember that everyone interprets MAGA differently.
Question – While being sheriff is there anything you’re going to do differently this year from last year?
My number one priority as Sheriff is to provide the highest quality of public safety to ALL of Broward County. That will always be my number one priority.
What three tasks has God placed on your heart to accomplish in the Black community?
To provide fairness. To create opportunity. To seek justice.
Question – What would you change if you had to go through this process again?
When I accepted the position as Sheriff, I immediately focused on the task of improving BSO from within. I increased training, established more accountability and assembled a command staff that reflected the best of Broward County and BSO. The one element that I did not focus on is the politics of Broward County and its impact on BSO. Would I change that? It would have made things easier for the election, but I don’t think it would have made the agency better.
Question – What is it like being a Black man on top?
It is a tremendous responsibility and opportunity. How I perform my job and fulfill my duties is a signal to young men and women of color that they can aspire to do anything. The decisions I make affect the safety of my employees and the public in countless ways.
It is a great honor every day to walk into the agency and know that the men and women of BSO have the tools and the training to do their job and that the community is regaining trust in us. I sign every letter with Service equals Rewards because that is what I live every day.
Question – What are your plans to establish cohesiveness in the total BSO? Do you have plans to establish a police/ community relationship that will build trust and cooperation between the two – if so,how?
Building trust with the communities that BSO serves will continue to be a top priority for me as Sheriff. I began the Neighborhood Support Teams earlier this year to help establish better community relations by engaging community leaders with reestablishing their relationship with BSO. I have established a real commitment to community policing that encourages deputies to get out of the police car and onto the sidewalks of our communities. But the most important aspect of the past year has been my efforts to hold my deputies accountable. I have established a Use-of-Force review board that brings an additional set of eyes to complaints of excessive force. I have appointed a new Professional Standards Committee which recommends disciplinary actions for deputies involved in policy violations including excessive use of force. These two changes have not been popular with some, but I believe they are essential for earning the trust in the community.
Question – What have you done differently than former sheriff Israel that has enhanced the sheriff’s dept, and that is meaningful to the community?
I have established the most diverse com-mand staff in the 105 year history of the agency and have over 400 years of BSO experience in that command staff. My predecessor brought in friends and political supporters.
I have enhanced mandatory training and invested in training staff and facilities. My predecessor treated training as an afterthought.
I have fired deputies against the recommendations of the Professional Standards Committee, something that my predecessor – or any Broward Sheriff, has done.
I have made my decisions based upon what is best for public safety in Broward County, not the politics of getting elected. I do not believe that true of my predecessor.
Question – Going forward what plans do have, in that regard, for Broward County?
I hope to continue to build upon our progress to become the premier public safety agency in the country. A safe community is a prosperous community.
Question – Many believe that the recent controversy is politically motivated. Regardless of the motive, do you believe that you can be an effective leader with all the issues including your application responses, the police union vote of no confidence and even personal accusations of sexual indiscretions?
Yes, absolutely and I believe the voters will agree with me in August and November.
Question – If you are elected Sheriff, what is your plan to mitigate distractions and dissension? During this crucial time of COVID-19 the people of Broward County need to know that you can focus on the job and not the distractions.
The people of Broward County can be assured the rash of politically motivated attacks have not been a distraction for me, my command staff or the men and women of BSO. We continue to provide the highest quality of public safety in the state.
Change is difficult in an agency of this size and reach- and there will always be some who will fight change. I do and will continue to work with my critics as long as their motives are to improve this agency and our ability to provide the highest quality of public safety.
Question – Name three attributes, skills or special knowledge that makes you more qualified to lead BSO?
My upbringing in a violent and poor neighborhood provides me with insights into the importance of community policing that others may not share.
My belief that hard work and active faith can help you achieve anything. I live that belief every day.
My absolute respect for the citizens that I serve. Service equals Rewards.