Breaking: 88% of the deputies from the Broward branch of the International Union of Police Associations voted no confidence in Sheriff Gregory Tony.
693 out of 786 ballots cast were for the no confidence vote.
The vote comes after Sheriff Tony suspended union president Jeff Bell over a dispute about deputies having enough protective equipment amidst the COVID 19 outbreak.
Earlier: Eileen Kelley, Sun Sentinel
Broward deputies are wrapping up their votes today on whether they have “no confidence” in their boss, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony.
The deputies’ union called for having such a vote a week ago, in part because of the quarreling between the union and Tony over whether deputies have enough equipment to protect them from the new coronavirus. The dispute heated up when the sheriff on April 10 suspended union president Jeff Bell.
The vote results will be announced at 4 p.m. today. If a majority of the 1,400 members side with the union, it could be an embarrassing blow to the sheriff who wants to be elected to his first full term. Or union members could vote against the symbolic gesture, or they could opt to say the whole matter is a waste of time and energy and chose to stay out of the fray by not voting.
Although the union has cited numerous allegations against the sheriff leading up to the vote, the most pressing matter has been the issue of protective gear. The sheriff maintains he has been ahead of the pandemic and began issuing goggles, masks and other specialty gear as early as Feb. 1. The union says that is untrue and that gear did not start getting issued until mid-March, and the gear issued then was limited.
In a letter addressing the “no confidence vote,” the union said that its executive board had over the course of several weeks received numerous complaints for regarding the lack of protective equipment. “We believe this ‘response’ to the COVID-19 threat is inadequate and appalling,” said Frank Voudy, the secretary and treasurer of the union.
All told, some 5,400 employees fall under Tony’s command. Tony, who is running for election in November, is among a crowded field of contenders for the seat. He is running as a Democrat, as is Scott Israel, the ousted sheriff who wants his old seat back. To date, the two of them are considered the most notable in the race.
This is not the first no-confidence vote against a Broward sheriff in recent years. Exactly two years ago today, the union announced its no confidence vote against Israel, citing a list of grievances that included his response to the Parkland school massacre.
Today’s announcement of the will not be made by the union president, who has been Tony’s most public critic. Tony has refused to discuss publicly the rationale behind the move, though his suspension paperwork says Bell made false statements, engaged in corrupt practices and engaged in conduct unbecoming.
“He is a deputy of the Broward Sheriff’s Office and thereby subject to comply with all agency policy,” Tony said in a statement last Monday. “All BSO [Broward Sheriff’s Office] employees are accountable for their actions, regardless of any ancillary role or title they may possess.”
Days later, the union announced that it would be conducting the no-confidence vote.
Tony was appointed sheriff by Gov. Ron DeSantis 15 months ago after DeSantis ousted Israel for his handling of the 2018 Parkland massacre.
This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to have breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.
Eileen Kelley can be reached at 772-925-9193 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @reporterkell.
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