Broward sheriff says courthouse escape highlights understaffing

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Following the escape of murder suspect Dayont’e Resiles from the Broward County Courthouse, Friday, Sheriff Scott Israel blamed county administrators for providing him with a budget too small to properly staff the courthouse.

At a press conference following the escape, Friday afternoon, Israel said that he knew they were understaffed at the courthouse since he took over as sheriff three years ago. The BSO handles security at both the courthouse and an adjacent judicial administrative building.

“Today my worst fears were realized,” said Israel. “We have been battling with Broward County for three years now, asking for adequate staffing for a courthouse that was understaffed from the day I became sheriff of Broward County.”

Resiles remains at large as law enforcement continue to search the area.

In an exclusive interview with 7News in August 2015, Israel spoke about the county’s plan for the new courthouse, which is yet to open. “People would be unsafe in the new courthouse,” he said in the interview. “We would not be as safe as we could be, but as we should be.”

Israel and other police officials worried that the 1.3 million visitors to the courthouse could be in danger. “My job is to make that courthouse as secure as possible,” Israel said in the 2015 interview. “The only reason, the only reason, that the courthouse will not be as secure as I want it to be, is because of money.”

BSO Lt. Col. Robert Drago said at the time that they were concerned an emergency would overwhelm their staffing. “We believe that if we were to have a critical event occur, we would not have enough staffing to address it,” Drago said.

County Administrator Bertha Henry told 7News in August 2015 that the new courthouse would have additional security measures, such as cameras. “We’re not suggesting you don’t need them. What we are suggesting is that you need a balanced approach to security,” she said. “It shouldn’t all be focused on people carrying guns.”

“Philosophically, there’s a difference between Broward County and your sheriff,” Israel said Friday. “The county believes my job is to save dollars. I believe my job is to save lives.”

There were 15 deputies on duty during the escape, covering the courthouse and judicial complex.

“The county will tell you that’s full staffing, and that is full staffing, but that’s unacceptable and inappropriate staffing,” Israel said at Friday’s press conference. “We need additional people. If the county is listening, we need more money. We need more people.”

On Friday, Henry said the sheriff has been given $1.5 million for courthouse security, and he has the authorization to place deputies in the courtroom where there’s a high-risk case. She said she did not know why that wasn’t the case today.

A BSO spokesperson said they don’t have the staff to place armed deputies in every courtroom. They said armed deputies are typically placed in a courtroom during trials, not hearings like the one on Friday.

Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar said in a statement, “Our only focus at this time should be on capturing the escaped inmate and ensuring the safety of the public. Once he has been captured we will determine how and why this occurred and take any corrective action that is necessary.”

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