The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association will hold a no-confidence vote on Sheriff Gregory Tony from Tuesday to next Monday, according to reporting by WPLG Local 10.
BSO Deputies Association President Jeff Bell was suspended with pay last week for “violations of BSO policies and procedures.”
Bell’s attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, says Bell was suspended for calling out Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony regarding complaints from deputies about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE’s) amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“What the sheriff did was to stifle free speech, violate federal whistleblowing laws, state whistleblowing laws, unfair labor practices and stop a union president from being able to communicate, because he is getting complaints from other first responders, other members of our community that are keeping us safe,” Schwartzreich said.
BSO’s statement last week said that Bell would “be afforded all protections and due process rights afforded under the law and consistent with BSO policies.”
“Otherwise, the agency will not comment on pending internal affairs investigation,” the statement read.
Schwartzreich, however, blasted Sheriff Gregory Tony for suspending the union president, who he said was simply “trying to make sure our deputies have personal protection equipment.”
“It’s about nothing more, nothing less. This is wrong,” Schwartzreich said. “Jeff Bell needs to be re-instated and we’re taking action.”
Sheriff Tony seems to suggest there was more to it.
“Well, I think the presumption that you’re making is the nature of this internal affairs is exclusively driven by one comment that he made or some type of article that he has written, and there is so much more substance to the nature of this investigation,” Tony told Local 10.
Schwartzreich said the action taken against his client for looking out for first responders was “against the law, reprehensible and actionable.”
The International Union of Police Associations also called out the sheriff in an open letter Sunday.
“This brazen display of power abuse is unbecoming of any law enforcement leader,” the letter stated. “Deputy Bell has been trying to meet with you privately over mutual concerns for more than a year, without success. Your actions clearly illustrate your complete disregard for any input from the representatives of the men you are supposed to lead. You have not, at any time, offered to sit down with the elected leader of these men and women to seek their input or their concerns.”
Tony lashed out at Bell at a news conference last Tuesday, saying his department has personal protective equipment for all employees.
“From the time-frame of Feb. 1 to April 6, we have dispersed over 25,263 N95 masks to our first responders,” he said.
According to the sheriff, 44,773 surgical masks were also dispersed, as well as more than 4,100 bottles of hand sanitizer.
The sheriff said his department has spent more than $1.3 million to get the equipment needed to face this crisis.
Bell’s attorneys say they are willing to sit down with Tony, without moving forward with legal action, to discuss the situation and the possible reinstation of Bell. But the union is officially moving forward with the no-confidence vote.
Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel who was elected twice and in 2019 was suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis for his mishandling of two mass shootings in the County, (Parkland and FLL airport) also received a no-confidence vote from the union. Israel tells 850WFTL that he is looking forward to the 2020 election. He will be running against Sheriff Gregory Tony to get his old job back. Israel said Monday night, “I fell we will WIN.”