Steve Bousquet: Sheriff Gregory Tony made a big mistake by antagonizing Broward unions

The Sun-Sentinel's Steve Bosquet made a perceptive observation about Gregory Tony's antagonization of one of BSO's labor unions and harsh treatment of its deputies, noting in particular the suspension of Jeff Bell, president of the deputy sheriff's union.


If Tony's character is to not discuss but to verbally attack, which he did when he lost his temper and cursed at a group of deputies prior to the funeral of Deputy Shannon Bennett, then he has no qualms about doing the same with other BSO employees in other less intense situations. Is this the kind of person who should head Broward County's law enforcement agency?


A leader should be calm in the face of a crisis. A real leader should shoulder the responsibility of the office with dignity and compassion, and motivate people with words of praise and positive direction to achieve BSO's public safety goals on behalf of Broward County's residents and visitors. Clearly, Tony is incapable of doing this.


Whether you believe that labor unions should exist or represent workers is not at issue. What is at issue is the treatment of people under one's command, and the protection of those individuals' health during this pandemic.


The other issue is whether Tony is capable of leading and understanding a complex organization. He has not effectively and quickly supported BSO employees with personal protective equipment, as reflected by the more than 80 BSO employees who have COVID-19. In what other areas has he failed to lead?


As a 40-year BSO veteran, I retired in 2017 with the rank of colonel. When I was a commander for the court services division, a watch commander for the entire county, and a colonel administering the $299 million budget of BSO’s 16 contract cities, I always connected with the roots of the organization, visiting deputies and supervisors in uniform patrol, asking if they needed support to do their jobs, listening to their needs, and helping to solve problems. I never stepped in to do their job when I was on a scene as I respected them to perform and lead on their own. If they needed help, I offered it, whether directing traffic or interviewing witnesses if they were short-handed.


It is essential for the next elected leader of BSO to be firmly grounded in the organization's operations, while having a vision for making it an effective law enforcement agency. With your support, I will be this leader.



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