City supports BSO’s halt on transporting prisoners
City of Lauderdale Lakes leadership is declaring their support for the Broward Sheriff Office’s (BSO) recent decision to stop using Lauderdale Lakes-assigned officers for transporting prisoners to court from the temporary holding facility in the city. This comes as the BSO received sharp criticism from Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Julie Jones, calling the office’s “inaction,” a “serious public safety issue.”
City Manager Kelvin Baker said he and the commission support County Sheriff Scott Israel’s decision, saying the move was in the “best interest of public safety.”
“To transport prisoners from the holding facility in the city to courts anywhere in the county requires assigning two officers, which reduces the slim security resources of the city, placing the city’s residents at risk,” said Baker. “The city supports the move by BSO to suspend this service, as it will enhance police visibility and presence in the city.”
As one of South Florida’s smallest cities, with a population of under 33,000 residents, Lauderdale Lakes, doesn’t operate its own police department. Instead, the city is dependent on BSO assigned officers from the county. According to City Manager Kelvin Baker, there are usually 10 sheriffs who serve the city 24 hours per day working two daily shifts with five officers per shift.
Baker emphasized the seriousness of the city’s limited police service, responsible for not only patrolling streets, but visiting crime scenes.
“If two cops are at a crime scene, and two are taken to transport prisoners for the DOC, that leaves only one officer on a shift to respond to other security issues,” said Baker. “That can’t be good.”
Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Beverly Williams also agreed taking officers from a five-man shift to transport prisoners “was grossly unfair and risky.”
“The city only has five officers on duty at a time to cover some 33,000 residents,” said Williams. “For years we have been appealing for this to stop, and DOC provide their own transport or make alternative arrangements. Nothing happened. Now that BSO has acted, we support their action. Lauderdale Lakes need maximum police service at all times.”
Whether Lauderdale Lakes plans to increase its own police presence, both Commissioner Williams and Baker both said the city still faces limited funding.
“Much as we would like to have more officers per shift, we are constrained by funding realities, and we just can’t go about increasing taxes on residents.” said Commissioner Williams
Baker said he’s fully aware and sensitive to the need of residents for more officers. He said the city’s staff is currently involved in the process of preparing the city budget, which should be finalized by the end of September.
“We are conducting a careful analysis, from all angles, of the city’s police needs to determine if it will be possible to address these needs in the city’s 2016/17 budget,” said Baker.