Almost two years after the tragedy at Parkland, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony says his deputies are much better prepared to handle another active shooter situation.
At a news conference Thursday, Tony said the department’s extensive training has elevated his deputies to the top in the nation when it comes to being ready to handle a a worst-case scenario.
Tony, who has been on the job just over a year, gave an update on where BSO is on a variety of matters affecting the community. He said at the top of that list was restoring the public’s trust in BSO’s ability to protect them, their number one job.
Tony said he felt that when he took over a year ago, BSO had a long way to go, and said the public's perception after Parkland was that deputies weren't willing to put their lives on the line.
"We lost the public’s trust after February 14th. We failed in the most grotesque manner and this community was referencing Broward Sheriff’s Office as the cowards of Broward,” Tony said. "So I had to terminate employees that were part of that failed process at Stoneman Douglas."
Tony said BSO has gone through top-level active shooter training and earned the highest certifications from even the FBI.
"You have had the chance to see the agency take an entire culture change, not just all the active shooter deficiencies, training deficiencies that had existed. We have gone forward in the last year and met numerous credentials in terms of how well prepared are we," Tony said.
As part of getting the public to believe in them again, BSO is acting against their own deputies when he believes they cross the line, Tony said.
"How could we as an organization expect to gain the public’s trust if we are not are not able to self police when we can clearly see something is wrong?" Tony said.
Tony said he fired Deputy Christopher Krickovich after video of a Tamarac teen's rough arrest prompted an internal investigation. A panel of deputies and civilians had recommended Krickovich be cleared.
"We do not allow those levels of excessive force to be washed away. An exoneration would have impacted not only the community but the trust they have in us. The last thing I will do as the sheriff is authorize an unnecessary level use of force where deputies feel comfortable that that type of behavior is acceptable," Tony said.
Krickovich is going to arbitration over his termination and has denied any wrongdoing.
Tony and staff members also gave a tour of a new high-tech mobile van that can be used by forensic experts to process crime scenes out at the location. It even comes with its own drone to fly over areas where they need to get a better look.
Tony is also on the lookout for civilians to come and be more involved in the panel that sends him recommendations on what should happen to deputies when their actions are being questioned by the public. He thinks having some strong-willed civilians is needed.