Union members send message to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel: We’ve lost confidence in you

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The results are in: More than 80 percent of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association members who voted have no confidence in Sheriff Scott Israel.

But that’s not the entire picture.

Only about half of the unions members voted and the deputies association is one of several that represent Broward Sheriff’s Office employees. The straw poll also won’t have any major effect on the elected sheriff.

Another union, the Federation of Public Employees, last week wrote a letter to support Israel on behalf of the 2,500 BSO employees it represents.

Still, Jeffrey Bell, president of the union said the vote — 534 of the 628 who voted had no confidence — should send a clear message to Israel, who has faced sharp criticism over how he handled the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in February.

“He fails to listen to the people,” Bell said during a news conference. “He fails to listen to the membership and he wants to blame everyone else for his problems.”

For the last week, the association, a chapter of the International Union of Police Associations, allowed its 1,300 members to vote, both electronically and in person, to share their discontent with the sheriff.

But according to Israel and to Bell, the vote was about much more than just Parkland. Tough labor contract negotiations between the union and management have stalled. Israel said he spoke with Bell a few weeks ago and the union president told him that in the wake of the Parkland shootings it would probably be a good time to cement a deal.

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Members want a 6.5 percent raise and management is only offering them 3 percent, Israel said.

Negotiations between the two have become so acrimonious that Bell accused Israel of ducking responsibility since the shooting. He said the sheriff’s department has become rudderless.

Israel countered that he hasn’t changed his schedule one bit, only agreeing with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to refrain from discussing Parkland until its review on deputy response is done.

Thursday evening Israel said via Twitter that he is “accountable to the citizens of Broward County.”
“My job is to continue to do this job I was elected to do, which is to ensure the safety of Broward County’s 1.9 million residents,” he said. “I will not be distracted from my duties by this inconsequential IUPA union vote, which was designed to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise from this agency.”

At the news conference, Bell called Israel “a complete liar.”

“This has never been about a contract,” he said. “This has been about his longstanding bad policies. His failure at leadership.”

Miami Herald news partner CBS4 contributed to this report.


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