South Broward police officials are hoping Broward Sheriff Scott Israel will look for other ways to save money rather than closing two BSO satellite booking centers.
The booking centers, in Hollywood and Davie, save officers time and keep them on patrol in their communities, rather than transporting prisoners to the main facility in Fort Lauderdale, miles away.
Israel's budget will be brought up at a public hearing at Tuesday’s Broward County Commission meeting. The final budget hearing will be held at 5:01 p.m. at the Broward Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
Israel said he doesn’t want to shut down the facilities and understands how important they are to police work, but his “hands are tied” because he has a $7 million budget gap to close.
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The satellite facility in Hollywood, which costs $1.4 million a year to run, opened in 2001, but was closed by budget cuts in 2010. Two years later, it reopened. The facility is open seven days a week.
“This was the very last cut we made,” Israel said. “It was a very tough decision.”
Israel originally submitted a $432.4 million budget to the County Commission covering rising pension costs, vehicle replacements and other expenses. Commissioners shot down his recommendation, asking him to pare it down. He did, but still needed to cut $7 million more.
The satellite centers, vehicle replacements, a technology project, all went on the chopping block. Israel also proposed scaling back ambulance services on Alligator Alley, but that was later scrapped.
“The Broward County Commission presents the sheriff with a budget allocation based on tax and other general revenues,” Broward Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief said in an e-mail. “It is then his responsibility to decide how that money is spent. The commission does not tell him how to spend his budget.”
Best he could do
Israel said he did the best he could with the money allocated.
“There is a huge time difference between going to the main jail and the satellite facility,” said Hollywood Officer Barry Rumble, who recently took a prisoner to the main jail in Fort Lauderdale. Officers can make several arrests a day and end up having to make the drive to Fort Lauderdale more than once if the satellite facility is closed.
On this particular day, Rumble is lucky. Only one person is ahead of him as he waits to check in his suspect, an 18-year-old with warrants for grand theft and giving a false name.
It took an hour for Rumble to get his prisoner to the main jail and check him in. That does not include the 12-mile drive back to Hollywood.
“It’s like winning the lotto when there is no wait,” Rumble said.
There are days when transport vehicles come in with prisoners, forcing officers like Rumble to be off the road for hours when they could be patrolling their neighborhoods.
During the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 a.m., Rumble has the option of taking a prisoner to his own station where BSO has staffed a booking facility for several years.
Closer to home
On the same day, Rumble and Officer Shaun Fowler used the Hollywood booking facility after arresting a man for smoking marijuana on his porch.
With filling out lengthy paperwork, the officers had the suspect checked in within 22 minutes.
If Israel shuts down the two South Broward satellite booking facilities, officers will face even more time away from their primary duties in their communities. Only one satellite center would remain open in Pompano Beach.
The Hollywood booking center is a huge convenience for Hallandale Beach, Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy said.
Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said he has seen an increase in arrests since the center reopened.
When a person commits a misdemeanor, officers can take them to jail or give them a notice to appear — which means they have to go to court, but don’t physically go to jail.
“We know that having the booking facility is a benefit,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes it makes more sense to write a notice to appear and keep that officer in the city.”
Police officials say they hope Israel will come up with a different way to save money.
“We have been through it before,” Miramar Police Chief Ray Black said. “But this will impact everybody.”