(WSVN) - The battle at the ballot box to be Broward’s top cop has begun.
In this year’s election, the former sheriff is running against the current sheriff.
Scott Israel was first elected sheriff in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, but after two mass shootings took place under his watch — at the airport in 2017 and in Parkland in 2018 — he was met with intense criticism of both himself and the agency.
“I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency,” said Israel.
“Amazing leadership?” asked CNN correspondent Jake Tapper.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel and appointed former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony as the new sheriff.
Now, Israel is asking voters to bring him back to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“I was suspended unjustly by a governor who thought that his one vote trumped the 600,000 votes we received,” said Israel.
Israel said among his accomplishments while in office were body cameras and expanding the juvenile civil citation program.
“Humbly, I’ve done more than any police leader to dismantle the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline,” he said.
Israel has criticized his opponent for not disclosing shooting and killing a man as a teenager in Philadelphia.
Tony said it was self defense and a court found him not guilty, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into whether Tony was truthful when filling out official documents.
The incumbent said he, too, is running on his record.
Tony launched the Real Time Crime Center to track school threats and has increased active shooter training.
“We have taken this agency from being one of the worst active shooter prepared to the best,” said Tony.
Tony has also fired a number of deputies accused of excessive force.
“I have held this agency and the men and women under my command to the highest level of accountability,” he said. “We can’t afford to have law enforcement officers who go out into the field and violate the public’s trust.”
There are also a handful of other democrats vying to lead BSO.
“I worked for the Broward Sheriff’s Office for over 35 years,” said Al Pollock. “I started as a road patrol deputy. I rose through the ranks and retired as a colonel.”
Pollock, a marine corps veteran, is viewed as Tony and Israel’s most formidable challenger.
He is backed by a number of the unions.
“One of the problems with the sheriff’s office at the moment is with the morale, so I will really, truly build on the morale,” said Pollock.
Willie Jones, who has experience as a corrections and police officer, said the agency needs to adopt a 21st century model of policing.
“Changing the hiring process, changing the training process, changing how we discipline, change how we promote,” he said.
Andrew Smalling was also in the marine corps. He worked at BSO and is a former Lauderhill Police chief.
He said BSO should move away from what he calls a “warrior mentality.”
“Instead of reaching for weapons, you use a very effective weapon that you have, which is your voice, your demeanor, your stature, to try to bring situations down,” he said.
Santiago Vazquez is an army combat veteran and former BSO deputy. One of his priorities is hiring more mental health professionals.
“I want a sheriff’s office that inspires confidence and not fear,” he said. “[One] that saves lives and not takes lives.”
There are also two republican candidates in the race.
H. Wayne Clark, an army veteran and attorney, said BSO needs more accountability.
“BSO is riddled with politics,” he said. “Politics has led BSO down a very slippery slope into making Broward County unsafe.”
Army veteran Casimiro Navarro, who previously worked for both Miami Springs Police and BSO, said building a better relationship with the public is key.
“Try to work on a better relationship with the community,” he said. “The community at this point doesn’t trust the employees.”
The winners of the Democratic and Republican Aug. 18 primaries will go on to face candidate Charles Whatley, who is not affiliated with a party, in the November general election.
For more information on the candidates campaigns, their websites are listed below:
- H. Wayne Clark – wayneforsheriff.com
- Scott Israel – scottisraelforsheriff.com
- Willie Jones – williejones2020.com/home
- Casimiro Navarro – onyourballot.vote411.org
- Al Pollock –pollock2020.com
- Andrew Smalling – smallingforsheriff.com
- Gregory Tony – sherifftony2020.com
- Santiago Vazquez – votesantiagovazquez.com
- Charles Whatley – votecharleschuckwhatley.com
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