Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was sworn in for his second term Tuesday afternoon, promising to continue compassionate reforms that led to his landslide re-election.
“This is truly the most talent rich public agency in America,” said Israel. “Through effective and innovative programs, BSO is now a shining example of everything good law enforcement strives to be. Each day, we make a difference throughout our diverse community.”
Surrounded by his family and fellow officers at the Faith Center in Sunrise, Israel reflected on how far he’d come. A career cop from Brooklyn, New York, Israel first ran for Broward Sheriff in 2008, but came up short against Al Lamberti.
“I needed to lose,” he said. “It was a humbling experience. I wasn’t with the people I needed to be with.”
He would return to defeat Lamberti in 2012 and won re-election in November with a whopping 72 percent of the vote.
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“One of the characteristics about my dad that stands out to me is his desire to win,” said Blake Israel, one of the Sheriff’s three sons. “Nothing is given to you. You have to work hard and earn victory.”
During his speech, Israel recognized several people in the audience, including former Sheriffs Ken Jenne and Bob Butterworth. He also offered inspirational quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, George Patton and Maya Angelou.
Loyalty was a theme throughout the two-hour program.
“You want people with intelligence working for you, but most of all you want people that are loyal to you because if they aren’t, they are loyal to someone else,” Israel said.
Retired BSO Sergeant Jim Dyer emceed the program and Judge Elijah H. Williams performed the swearing in ceremony. Richie Supa, a guitarist from the rock band Aerosmith, performed two numbers — “Put A Face On Me” and “Lean On Me.”
Supa founded a recovery facility for addiction treatment in Fort Lauderdale. Israel called the recording artist his "brother."
“Don’t show me how far you’ve fallen, so me how far you’ve bounced back,” Israel said.
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Under Israel’s leadership, violent crime in Broward County is down 18 percent and burglaries are down 42 percent. Israel credits this decline to the implementation of a civil citation program designed to give young people who commit misdemeanors a second chance.
“We will continue to measure our success by the number of kids we keep out of jail and in school,” he said.
During his speech, Israel recognized Ron Gunzburger’s work as a “problem solver” in the office of general counsel. He praised the hiring of new fire chief Joe Fernandez as “a home run” and said BSO would always stand up to bullies.
“We will always treat people with dignity and respect,” Israel said. “We have diversified our department to reflect our community. We’re building bridges.”
David Currie, a senior detective for the BSO crime scene unit, told SFGN Israel has taken the agency to new levels.
"I have seen this agency grow and forever change, all for the good," said Currie, a 25-year veteran of the force. "I commend Sheriff Israel for the diversity and acceptance that the agency has portrayed during his administration."
When marriage equality became legal in Florida, Currie married his partner Aaron -- in uniform -- and with the blessing of Sheriff Israel. On that fateful morning in the Broward County Courthouse, Currie became the first openly gay law enforcement officer to be married in Florida.
"I am forever thankful for the support and recognition Sheriff Israel showed two years ago," Currie said. "Sheriff Israel was extremely supportive and gave me permission to be married in my uniform. He and his command staff were present and he recognized Aaron and I by name that evening. He honored and supported me, my beliefs and my lifestyle that evening. I will continue to honor him with my service to the agency and the community. That night was a memorable experience for me as well as many others."
In closing his swearing-in speech, Israel offered words of advice from the Navy SEALs.
“Do not rise to the occasion — sink to the level of your training,” he said. “Stay alive. Win the battles you enter.”