The Broward Sheriff’s Office achieved incredible results in 2014 that have made our community a better and safer place to live in, work in and visit.
Crime rates are sharply down in the parts of Broward County policed by BSO. In 2013, we saw a 10 percent overall drop in crime. In 2014, crime dropped an additional 8 percent. This means that in two years, we’ve seen nearly a one-fifth drop in crime rates, which is huge.
In this time period, we have helped bring about the lowest crime rate in South Florida in many decades. These results directly reflect the amazing work being performed daily by the dedicated men and women of BSO.
Last year, BSO launched the V.I.P.E.R. unit to target the most dangerous violent criminals in Broward – and we saw a large drop in violent crime rates.
This year, BSO added another innovative specialized unit: the Burglary Apprehension Team (BAT). The BAT combats residential burglaries in Broward, using a combination of reliable “old school” police detective work on the ground coupled with high-tech, computerized, predictive crime modeling intelligence. This combination has proven highly effective, helping to reduce residential burglaries agencywide in 2014 by 30 percent.
Our Civil Citation Program, aimed at keeping kids out of jail and in the classroom, has been aided by the new PROMISE Program partnership between BSO, various police agencies, the State Attorney’s Office and the Broward County School Board. The objective of the PROMISE Program is to end the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse” pipeline by offering in-school alternatives to arrests and suspensions. In 2014, juvenile arrests were down 16 percent, due in part to these innovative programs.
BSO also launched the innovative Driveway Initiative last year, where neighbors come together in informal settings with law enforcement to exchange ideas, concerns and solutions. The Driveway Initiative is about applying different strategies to reduce crime and fostering stronger relationships with the communities we serve. It helps find local solutions to local problems. This year, I hope to expand these initiatives to help recapture an era when residents and businesses had strong, positive relationships with their neighbors and with their local law enforcement officers.
Finally, we have worked to advance our Uniting Broward community initiative. BSO held a community conference and an outdoor festival to promote diversity, safety and security. These events were exciting new opportunities for law enforcement and residents to listen, understand and build connections. Understanding and embracing Broward’s vibrant diversity promotes better public safety. When we make an effort to become familiar with the things that make us different, we are safer and smarter as a result.
By working together, we can make Broward County an even better place to call our home. I am looking forward to 2015 and continuing the successful work of this agency. My warmest wishes to each of you and your family for a happy, healthy and safe new year!
Scott Israel is sheriff of Broward County. For BSO news and information, visit www.sheriff.org, become a Facebook fan (Broward Sheriff’s Office – Official), follow on Twitter@browardsheriff or sign up to receive Sheriff Israel’s e-Alerts.