PLANTATION, FLA. (WSVN) - The Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies union has resoundingly voted against Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony following criticism from their president about a lack of personal protective equipment for deputies.
The results of the no confidence vote cast by deputy union members were confirmed during a media conference held Monday afternoon.
Of the 786 ballots, 693 voted no confidence and 93 voted in favor of the sheriff, meaning 88% of deputy union members voted against him.
“Six hundred and ninety-three of our members have no confidence in Sheriff Gregory Tony,” said Frank Voudy with the BSO Deputies Association. “The morale is in the toilet. It’s dismal.”
Voting officially closed at 2 p.m. Monday.
The deputies union has claimed Tony jeopardized their safety, muzzled them and threatened them, prompting a lengthy response from the sheriff.
In a letter, Tony wrote, “When I arrived at BSO, my top priority was and still is to have the best trained, best equipped and most respected law enforcement agency in Florida and the country.”
The sheriff also wrote about his accomplishments.
“Since arriving in January of 2019, we have increased training for all deputies, provided rifles and new vests, and granted the highest pay raise in 25 years,” he said.
The no confidence vote comes on the heels of an editorial, written by union president Jeff Bell, criticizing Tony for what he described as a lack of PPE and other safety supplies for deputies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tony suspended Bell, calling him a rogue deputy.
Following the suspension, a number of other deputies anonymously stepped forward confirming the union president’s claims of unsafe working environments.
“I have yet to receive any gloves. There is a minimal supply of hand sanitizer,” said one of the deputies.
In his letter, Tony responded, “I know that every deputy has concerns about PPE, and some are wondering whether BSO will be able to continue to provide adequate PPE for the duration of the pandemic. The short answer is yes.”
The no confidence vote is symbolic, but union officials said they hope it will lead to improvements within the agency.
“The voice of our members were heard, OK, and we’re going to decide our next course of action,” said Voudy.
Just before 5 p.m. Monday, Tony responded to the no confidence vote in a statement that read in part, “I want to say to the deputies, I hear your concerns following today’s vote, my commitment is unwavering, and our mission remains clear.”
Tony added that he wants deputies to remain united, and procedures have been put in place to limit their exposure to COVID-19 in all areas of operation.
In his statement, the sheriff wrote, “We have established procedures to limit exposure to COVID-19 … and have worked to give all of the BSO family the necessary tools to protect themselves.”
But Voudy said that is not the entirely accurate.
“The stuff is slowly starting to roll out to the districts only when we became vocal about it,” he said.
Bell has since filed a motion in court to get his job back, as well as his position with the union.
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