BY BUDDY NEVINS
In what might be the first expansion of Sheriff Scott Israel’s law enforcement empire since he was sworn-in less than two months ago, Hollywood’s police have voted to explore a merger with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The city’s Police Benevolent Association voted 89-2 to look into a union.
The Hollywood force has suffered for years as the city’s financial problems put a brake on benefits and pay. In 2011, the police pay was cut 12.5 percent, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
In addition, a number of officers believe the city commission does not value their work and recently distributed flyers which stated: “Our city DOES NOT LIKE US. They think we are glorified secretaries and should work for minimum wage with a 401K!”
So the first thing the Hollywood cops will explore is whether Israel will have to make a better pay and benefits offer than they can get from city hall. No doubt, BSO can give Hollywood officers better career paths with more opportunities for advancement because it is much larger.
Any merger agreement must be approved by Hollywood commissioners.
So to fashion a deal, Israel will have to show the Hollywood force they will get more from BSO while offering commissioners a budget savings. He could be helped by former Hollywood Chief Chad Wagner, who now works for the sheriff’s office.
Also available for help would be Israel confidant former Sheriff Ken Jenne. Jenne enticed some cities to join BSO while he was sheriff and is a master negotiator from his experience in the state Senate.
It’s Israel’s game to win or lose.
A take-over by Israel would be the 15th city out of 31 in Broward that BSO would patrol.
The others are Cooper City, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Parkland, Pembroke Park, Pompano Beach, Southwest Ranches, Tamarac, Weston and West Park. In addition, BSO polices unincorporated areas, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, the courthouses, has a fire-rescue division and the operates one of the largest jail systems in Florida.
Below is the news release from the Hollywood PBA. Click to enlarge it: