BY BUDDY NEVINS
Two communities are taking the first steps to dismantle Sheriff Scott Israel’s empire.
Southwest Ranches is now following Deerfield Beach’s lead, exploring whether to cancel its policing contract with the sheriff.
The restiveness among commissions in the two communities is the result of Israel pricing services at their actual cost for the first time in years, according to a spokesman for the sheriff who asked not to be identified.
“(Former Sheriff Al) Lamberti subsidized these cities by charging all the county residents more money,” the source said. “We have instituted fair prices.”
The source speculated that Southwest Ranches and Deerfield Beach’s actions were negotiating ploys designed to get the sheriff to lower his price.
Regardless of the reasons, Southwest Ranches Town Attorney Keith Poliakoff has been instructed to ask the Florida Attorney General whether it would be legal for Southwest Ranches to turn its policing over to Davie.
The letter went out last week.
“After receiving an initial proposal for a million dollar increase in services, the Town of Southwest Ranches Town Council unanimously authorized me to request an Opinion from the Attorney General to confirm that the Town has the ability to solicit services from the Town of Davie to be the Town’s law enforcement services provider. If the Town is unable to come to terms with BSO, the Town would be the first municipality in Broward County to seek law enforcement services from a neighboring municipality, opening the door for all other municipalities who may desire to seek an alternative option,” Polikoff explained.
Deerfield voted last month to explore other policing, fire and EMS options after the sheriff’s department hiked the annual rate by $3.5 million. The city is hiring a consultant to determine whether it would be cheaper to return the police to city control.
Police services in Deerfield have been handled by the Broward sheriff for 23 years, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The Sheriff’s Department currently handles police services in 14 Broward cities and town, unincorporated sections of the county, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades and the Broward County courthouses. In addition, deputies guard four jails and the intake facility.