Deputies with the Broward Sheriff’s Office voted no confidence in Sheriff Gregory Tony, according to union leaders Monday afternoon.
The final tally revealed, of the 786 votes that were casted by members, 693 deputies voted no confidence. The votes will have no real effect on Tony’s job status, but represent a symbolic distrust among union members.
"Ironically, we were here two years ago," BSO Deputies Association Secretary Treasurer, Frank Voudy, said after the results were released.
Voudy was referring to former BSO Sheriff Scott Israel who also received a vote of no confidence from deputies in April of 2018.
Israel was heavily criticized for his response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which 17 people, mostly teenage students, were shot dead.
Voudy said 158 more deputies voted in this ballot.
BSO's Deputies Association is one of seven unions that represent the 5,600 employees in the police agency.
The Deputies Association represents more than 1,400 deputies and sergeants.
Monday’s results capped off a turbulent week for Tony after the union’s president was suspended for criticizing the sheriff’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, sheriff Gregory Tony said:
“I want to say to the deputies, I hear your concerns. Following today’s vote, my commitment is unwavering and our mission remains clear. It’s time to unite and work together to continue providing the highest level of professional public safety services to our Broward County community.”
Jeff Bell, the president of the union, was suspended with pay.
Bell’s suspension was the result of an internal affairs investigation brought on by a column in the Sun Sentinel that blasted Tony, which Bell had written. It came four days after the death of Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, and after three dozen Broward deputies and other employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
Bell accused the sheriff of allegedly not having enough personal protective gear for deputies, first responders and those working in the Broward County Jail system.
“For any rogue employee to come off and present these comments, that we have failed this community and failed these men and women we are leading, is despicable," Tony said in a briefing last Tuesday.
The sheriff said that more than 25,000 high-quality masks and more than 40,000 surgical masks had already been given out when Bell made his statements saying deputies were telling him they didn’t have what they need.
Bell’s attorneys have criticized the suspension, calling it “illegal and immoral.”