The Broward County Sheriff’s Office made history Tuesday.
Sheriff Gregory Tony promoted Col. Nichole Anderson, 49, to undersheriff, making her the first African-American woman and the first woman to serve as BSO’s second in command, a press release says.
“It’s very important because it established a few things,” Anderson said. “It breaks a glass ceiling because it paves the way for not only African Americans but women to achieve greater success in the profession.”
Anderson has accomplished a number of firsts during her 23-year career at BSO. In 2011, she became the first African-American female captain to head a district command. Roughly six years later, she became the first African-American woman promoted to major in 2017. In 2019, she became the first woman to be named a colonel.
“As I began soliciting interest for the position, I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support from the rank and file who felt Colonel Anderson was the perfect candidate for the appointment,” Tony said in a statement. “To me, their actions are a testament to her leadership and the respect she has garnered through her career at BSO.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Tony as sheriff earlier this year, replacing former sheriff Scott Israel, who was roundly criticized for the department’s handling of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in 2018. BSO deputies did not enter the school building during the shooting, which killed 17 students and faculty members.
Anderson, a Fort Lauderdale native, began her career at BSO in September 1996 as a road patrol deputy. Over the years, she’s done everything from supervising BSO’s Recruitment Division to graduating from the FBI National Academy, a 10-week training program for select law enforcement officials who are chosen based on their leadership skills.
Being named undersheriff at a time when many have lost faith in law enforcement, however, will be the biggest test of her career. She also has to contend with repercussions after the Parkland massacre.
“It’s about service to the agency and the community,” Anderson said, “and this is what we’re looking to move toward in terms of positive relations within the community.”
According to the Miami New Times, BSO’s previous undersheriff, Colonel Sean Zukowsky, resigned Sept. 5.
BSO has more than 5,000 employees and a $900 million-plus annual budget.