Broward County

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony is officially running to be sheriff again

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony announced Monday that he will run for election to continue serving as the county’s top law enforcement official.

Tony, a Democrat who was appointed as sheriff by Gov. Ron DeSantis in early January after the suspension of Scott Israel, said in a statement that he filed his election paperwork because “there is still more work to be done.”

“It is not lost on me that I was provided with the unique opportunity to lead the Broward Sheriff’s Office after our community suffered two of the worst tragedies in our county’s history,” said Tony, referring to the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018 and at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in 2017.

“The reasons for my predecessor’s removal were just the tip of an iceberg, and the long-ignored issues of the past had crippled an agency that has the potential to be a model for the nation,” Tony added.

Tony, the first black sheriff at BSO, replaced Israel, who was suspended in one of DeSantis’ first actions after taking office earlier this year. Israel’s department faced sharp scrutiny and national outrage in the aftermath of the shooting at the Parkland school that left 17 dead and 17 injured, following internal investigations and media reports that showed failures in the department’s response.

Israel was officially removed last month after the Florida Senate agreed he was responsible for leadership failures that led to the Parkland shooting’s botched response. The twice-elected former sheriff, a Democrat, had filed in July to run again for sheriff.

“We can’t go back to letting politics dictate what is important to keep our residents safe,” Tony said in his statement. “We can’t allow discredited politicians who continue to show poor leadership to come back. More of the same is not the answer.”

Tony has overseen some of the fallout from the mass shooting, including the firing and resignation of several employees within his department, additional training and reviewing of active shooter policies.

But in 10 months of serving un-elected in his current role, the former Coral Springs police sergeant has not steered clear of controversy.

Four months into his tenure, a video of a 15-year-old having his head smashed onto the pavement by a BSO deputy during a rough arrest went viral. Tony later criticized the State Attorney’s Office for dropping charges against the student, and dismissed elected officials who questioned his department’s disciplinary methods. All three deputies involved were suspended without pay this summer, according to BSO.

That same month, his department also began investigating a newly-surfaced video of an earlier incident where a Broward deputy can be seen punching a man handcuffed to a hospital bed. The deputy was terminated last week.

Bianca Padró Ocasio is a general assignment reporter for the Miami Herald. She has been a Florida journalist for several years, covering everything from crime and courts to hurricanes and politics. Her bilingual work telling the stories of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida has been previously recognized by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Sunshine State Awards.