A study commissioned four years ago by then Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti found that this key law enforcement institution and major employer lacked meaningful diversity in workforce and business opportunities.
The report, dated March 24, 2010, titled, Findings and recommendations for improving diversity and equal opportunity in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was prepared by a Council for Diversity and Equal Opportunity (CDEO).
One surprising discovery is that the report was never made public and some members of the CDEO say they have not seen it. It is surprising because the panel’s stated mandate was based on a supposed commitment by Mr. Lamberti to diversify the workforce, in keeping with the BSO’s own policy manual.
Why the report was apparently shelved remains unknown but Mr. Lamberti was voted out of office last fall and his successor, Scott Israel, who campaigned on a commitment to racial diversity, must make good on the findings of the diversity study.
His representatives have said that he is still reviewing the document. What exactly that means is unclear because the report is unambiguous in its findings that diversity is very unevenly spread throughout the agency and also that not nearly enough business is being awarded to minorities.
The new sheriff must quickly embrace this study and commit himself to taking steps that will ensure the work by the CDEO members was not in vain. There are actions he can take immediately, based on the report, such as dealing with something as obvious as adopting a common definition of “diversity” for all departments and enforcing adherence to it, as well as preparing the recommended “Diversity Vision Statement” and “Diversity Action Plan” that will lead to the proposed goal of 10 to 15 percent diversity.
The report does not go into great detail about the business opportunities with the BSO but that is an area that needs immediate attention. The agency is a major source of contracts and it is no secret that not nearly enough of those have been awarded to blacks and other minorities. Mr. Israel can ensure that there is fairness when it comes to who gets some of the available dollars.
Judging from the report, it is clear that there is need to encourage blacks to apply for jobs with the BSO and for the agency to retain them. There is need also for the office to make a concerted effort to woo black businesses and explain the contracting process. Making the workforce more reflective of Broward County in all areas and bringing black businesses into the contracting process are goals which Mr. Israel should pursue as a matter of