Plantation, FL – The Broward Sheriff’s Office has been underpaying its employees to the tune of $12 million.
A recent arbitration ruling affirmed that the department had underpaid wages and failed to make some past pension contributions - payroll errors that were identified by the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, according to a press release by that organization.
Deputies Association President Jeff Bell called the ruling a “huge victory for current as well as retired employees.”
The deputies’ union thanked the Broward Sheriff’s Office for being willing to go back as far as 2007 to pay back lost wages to all current employees. They anticipated that all payments would be made by the end of September.
"The union attempted to resolve this matter for a fraction of the cost and agreed to language changes in the contract to favor BSO months ago," Bell said. "The sheriff is trusted as the gatekeeper of public funds and unfortunately, he let personal feelings related to a no-confidence vote get in the way of saving the public at least $10 million."
On April 26, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel received a vote of no confidence from his deputies in a vote of 534 to 94.
At the time, Bell acknowledged the risk of going up against Sheriff Israel, and said the union’s “members have displayed great courage to come out and vote under threat of retaliation and reprisal from the sheriff,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
He said the union planned to present the results of the no confidence vote to Florida Governor Rick Scott and ask him to please “replace the sheriff with somebody who is capable of amazing leadership.”
“Amazing leadership starts from the top, and there is no amazing leadership here. We are a ship out at sea with no power — adrift,” Bell told the Sun-Sentinel.
Under Florida law, the governor has the power to suspend Sheriff Israel for "malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty" and "may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension,” CNN reported.
Then it would be the responsibility of the Florida State Senate to decide what to do. The senate has the power to make final decisions about what happens to an official after they have been suspended.
The union cited examples of problems that have existed throughout Sheriff Israel’s administration, but said the sheriff’s handling of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day was the last straw.
When the sheriff touted his leadership skills in an interview with CNN, the union decided it had had enough.
Sheriff Israel has defended his handling of the Parkland school massacre, and said Thursday that the no confidence vote was “unfortunate and appalling,” and nothing more than a “ploy” to advance the deputies’ salary negotiations, CNN reported.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was investigating the incident response, which included a school resource officer who stayed outside the classroom building while a gunman murdered 17 students and faculty, and wounded 16 more.
Seventy-four Florida lawmakers called for Sheriff Israel’s resignation, and the Florida attorney general questioned the integrity of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t think some people were honest, and we’re going to investigate this situation in Florida and the right thing will be done,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told FOX News.
Sheriff Israel responded to initial criticism of his agency’s handling of the shooting rampage by touting his own leadership skills, and blaming Broward County Deputy Scot Petersen.
The sheriff accepted no responsibility for the numerous warning signs about future-shooter Nikolas Cruz, and he disavowed responsibility for taking action regarding Cruz in advance in an interview with CNN.
“Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about,” Sheriff Israel said. “I exercised my due diligence. I provided amazing leadership to this agency.”