Florida’s embattled Broward County Sheriff’s Office has been stripped of its law enforcement accreditation following its officers’ numerous failures while responding to two mass shootings.
The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation voted unanimously during a meeting on Wednesday to remove the department’s accreditation, the Miami Herald first reported.
The commission cited mistakes Broward County officers made during last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland as well as during the 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Both attacks combined left 22 people dead.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who was appointed by the governor in January in the wake of the Parkland attack, expressed disappointment in the commission’s decision.
“It is disheartening for the hardworking members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office to lose our accreditation because of the previous administration’s mishandling of two devastating events in our community,” Tony said in a statement obtained by HuffPost.
“Since recently taking command, I have worked on improving BSO and repairing the effects of bad leadership and negligence by focusing on training and community relations,” he added. “I will continue working hard to ensure that all Broward residents feel safe and that our agency’s reputation and honor are restored.”
A representative for the commission did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment on Monday.
It’s not mandatory for a law enforcement agency to have accreditation from the commission, but it does bolster an agency’s credentials that it can satisfy a large number of standards and evaluations.
As the Herald notes, accreditation helps agencies defend themselves against lawsuits, showing that outside experts have validated their procedures. It also helps lower insurance rates.
“Accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence,” the commission’s website states. “Employees will take pride in their agency, knowing that it represents the very best in law enforcement.”
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, one of several high-ranking law enforcement officers that make up the commission’s board, argued during last week’s meeting that it’s not enough for a law enforcement agency to have all the proper standards and rules in place. The agency’s personnel must abide by them as well.
“There were substantial periods where they were not in compliance with how they performed in the field,” Ramsay said, according to the Herald. “As a result we saw the catastrophic loss of life and injuries and what transpired because of lack of following procedures and things in place.”
The board’s vote came the same day that Tony announced that two more officers had been fired over their response to the Parkland shooting. These terminations followed two earlier firings and a monthslong investigation into the department’s response.