When it comes to gun violence, when do we say, “Enough is enough”? When a person changing their tire is hit by a stray bullet? Or when a teenager is shot and killed walking home from school? How about when a decorated law enforcement officer is viciously gunned down in a drugstore parking lot? The time has come to say, “Enough is enough”!
People often see me only as the Sheriff of Broward County; many forget that I am first a father and husband. As such, it is my job to protect my family and, as your sheriff, it is my goal to ensure the very same safety for the citizens of this community.
As a member of law enforcement for more than 30 years, I take illegal ownership of guns and gun violence very seriously and it is my goal to curb this problem. In an effort to make this goal a reality, in 2009 I assigned six detectives from the Broward Sheriff’s Office to form a Gun Squad. The squad focused on tackling a very serious problem in Broward County: gun violence. The purpose of the Gun Squad is extremely important: stop illegal ownership of guns, seize dangerous weapons and secure our streets. While the task may have seemed impossible to some, public safety is the number-one priority of government and I was determined to combat and raise awareness of this important initiative.
This initiative was enacted with the sole purpose of targeting people who have obtained illegal firearms and the traffickers who supply them. These are the people who give responsible gun owners a bad name and the criminals who are making some of our neighborhoods dangerous places to live.
With two years under their belts, the BSO Gun Squad is learning more and more everyday. Working with other units within our agency and other law enforcement jurisdictions, these detectives have been successful in connecting weapons to various unsolved crimes. With more than 200 arrests and the seizure of 252 guns thus far, the Gun Squad is proving that we are making a difference and we can transform some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Broward County. That’s 252 guns that will not be used in a crime and more than 200 people who cannot commit a violent act against our children or our community.
Often there are family members or friends who know of someone illegally possessing a firearm but they don’t know what to do about it. We want you to know that you can report it to us — anytime — day or night. Our Gun Stoppers program is administered by Broward County Crime Stoppers and the tip line number is 954.493.TIPS (8477). The more illegally owned guns we get off the streets, the safer we will all be.
Similar to what our law enforcement counterparts in Miami-Dade have done, I want to expand the Gun Squad. I firmly believe that, by increasing the number of law enforcement personnel who are specifically looking for illegally owned firearms, we can transform the most violent communities in South Florida.
With changing technology, a more aggressive approach and a national database to track weapons used in the commission of a crime, gun violence and illegal gun ownership is a problem that can be controlled.
Remember, Broward County is your home as well as mine and we all need to do our part in protecting it. I encourage each resident to be alert and observant.
As another new year begins, let’s work together as a community to make Broward County a shining example of a peaceful community to the rest of the nation.
Al Lamberti is sheriff of Broward County.