Dear Members and Friends,
Our next meeting is Tuesday,
September 1st, 2009
Check In: 6:30 P.M.
-Meeting Begins: 7 P.M.
Hollywood Beach Culture & Community Center
1301 South Ocean Drive/ A1A
Hollywood, FL 33019
Topic of Discussion: The 9/12 Tea Parties
and the Broward County Sheriff's Office
Please feel free to pass on our invitation to your
friends and family, all are welcome.
Take I-95 to Hollywood Blvd., drive East towards
Center will be on your left-hand side at
intersection of Azalea Terrace.
Metered parking lot. Refreshments served.
Tickets will be on sale for the "Heroes In Action"
- Hollywood Police Athletic League-Boxing event.
If you have any questions, please feel
free to call me anytime.
Until then...Stay active, connected and informed!
Ed Napolitano, President
Details of Broward Sheriff's Office budget cuts expectedAugust 18, 2009
The budget battle between Broward County commissioners and Sheriff Al Lamberti could be near a resolution by Tuesday's end.
The Broward Sheriff's Office is scheduled to go before commissioners Tuesday with details of how it will trim $21 million from its spending plan. Most of the savings would come from cutting in-custody treatment programs, an unspecified number of layoffs and closing the Stockade, the minimum security jail.
About $3 million of the total would be made up in more money from fees.
Lamberti would reopen the Stockade in short bursts should the inmate population get too high. Broward is under a federal court order to stay beneath a jail population cap or face a fine.
If approved, the budget agreement would end months of wrangling between commissioners and BSO.
With property values down, county commissioners began this year's budget process with an approximate $100 million shortfall. They wanted Lamberti to shoulder about half of the burden and cut $46 million from his agency, the largest of its kind in Broward.
His proposal meets about half of the county's goal. Whether this is enough to please county leaders will be hashed out at Tuesday's workshop.
If Lamberti and commissioners don't reach a compromise before the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1, the sheriff could appeal his budget to the Florida Cabinet, a potentially lengthy process.
A presentation about BSO's spending plan is scheduled to go before county commissioners at 10 a.m. in room 430 of the Broward County Government Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. It will be the first in a full day of presentations from various county services.
Two columnists write on the no-win situation for
BSO with Maury Hernandez
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
In real world, miracle deputy doesn't get dream ending
August 31, 2009
If the miraculous recovery of Broward Sheriff's Deputy Maury Hernandez were a movie, the ending would have Hernandez putting on his badge and holster and returning to his job as a street detective.
But this is real life, which means things aren't so tidy. Two years after taking a bullet to the head during a traffic stop, Hernandez walked into a recent meeting at the Sheriff's Office in uniform, and the reaction was discomfort.
Hernandez, 30, now confronts a tangle of insurance and pension issues. Instead of life-affirming triumph, there's soul-deadening bureaucracy. He has a lawyer. There's tension in the air.
"I'm not asking for a charity position," Hernandez wrote by e-mail Monday. "If the sheriff didn't really mean it when he said there would be something waiting for me then I just want him to tell me so. I will not have hard feelings."
Said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti: "Emotions have overtaken everything."
On this there's agreement: Hernandez isn't fit to perform his old job. His mobility is compromised, his left arm partly paralyzed. Basically, a return to a weapon-carrying law-enforcement job doesn't appear possible.
During his rehabilitation, Hernandez got full pay through the county's worker's compensation system. But that's about to lapse. Lamberti said Hernandez has two options:
He can retire with a permanent disability pension from the state, which would pay him 65 percent of his salary for life, tax-free. The payments would start at $32,229 a year and rise with inflation. He'd also get lifelong health insurance.
He can take a civilian job with the Sheriff's Office, something like an investigative aide. But that would mean he'd be disqualified from getting disability benefits related to the shooting in the future.
"It's Maury's decision, but we just want to make sure he fully understands the ramifications," said Lamberti, who didn't attend the Aug. 5 meeting.
"So far, all that has been offered is disability retirement, which is not a job," Hernandez wrote Monday. I wanted to talk face-to-face, but his attorney wouldn't allow it.
"I loved working at the BSO, and my heart is there," Hernandez wrote. "It's a shame the way things are right now, but there is too much positive history and too many great friends there for me to say that my feelings have soured."
Lamberti said he wouldn't want Hernandez to return to the Sheriff's Office, get injured because of his condition and not be entitled to benefits. The sheriff said the meeting was meant to be a starting point, not an ultimatum.
"We want what's best for Maury," Lamberti said.
Lance Block, Hernandez's attorney, called the Aug. 5 session "a sales meeting to get him to take the disability option."
If Hernandez took the disability pension, Lamberti said he could remain involved with the Sheriff's Office as a motivational speaker or crisis-team volunteer. "Look, the guy is a true inspiration," Lamberti said.
Lamberti knows that Hernandez makes for the ultimate sympathetic figure, and this is a public-relations fight he can't win.
But it's not as if Hernandez is the first to get wounded or disabled on the job. If Lamberti makes an exception to let Hernandez keep his position, then lawsuits from other disabled deputies could follow.
Hernandez's shooter, David Maldonado, is now serving a life sentence.
A shame that Hernandez, as the victim, might also have to serve a life sentence, losing the job he loves.
"I don't know what my next step will be," Hernandez wrote.
Not exactly a Hollywood ending. But it could have been a whole lot worse.
August 24, 2009
BSO denies deputy his dream to serve again
Ever since Maury Hernández emerged from a coma a year and 10 months ago he has received countless demonstrations of the community's affection and been highly decorated. He even got to throw the first pitch at a baseball game between the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.
Through it all, Hernández, the deputy shot in the head while on duty two years ago, has yearned for only one thing: to return to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
He was ecstatic when he was scheduled to meet with BSO on Aug. 5. The night before, he filled four notebook pages with new handwritten ideas. And in the morning, he suited up in his old uniform, which now includes a green honor medal usually presented posthumously to fallen officers. He came that close.
He was devastated after the meeting. He says BSO officials told him he would go on permanent disability retirement. "It's the worst betrayal of my life,'' said Hernández, 30, who suffers from motor-function problems on the left side of his body. "Everybody knew I wanted to go back to work.''
Jim Leljedal, a BSO spokesman, said no final decision has been made on Hernández's case. "We discussed his future, his options and his eligibility for a disability pension,'' Leljedal said. "Everyone here admires and loves Maury, and we want the best for him.''
BSO seems to think retirement would be best. Hernández says that was the only offer on the table.
"If they really want the best for me, they should have asked me, knowing that going back to work is what my heart wants,'' said the Cuban-American officer who lives in Hialeah with his parents. Hernández almost died protecting this community, and BSO, for all its proclamations of love and admiration for him, responds by shattering his dream of returning to the work he loves. Shameful.
It's deviously hypocritical coming after Hernández became Al Lamberti's poster child during his campaign for sheriff and never missed a photo-op next to the hero.
This injustice could stir Broward County's Hispanic community, which claims it is not adequately represented in Broward's police departments, said José "Pepe'' López, a member of BSO's new diversity committee.
"This is not well seen in the Hispanic community, especially among Cubans who went all out to support the sheriff with donations and votes,'' López said.
Doctors gave Hernández no hope of survival in August 2007, when David Maldonado, a motorcyclist he confronted for speeding past several red lights on Pembroke Road, shot him twice. Last year Maldonado was sentenced to life in prison.
The officer survived miraculously and gradually recovered, winning the hearts of South Floridians.
On Thursday, Hernández accompanied his father, Mauricio, to Dadeland Mall to buy a handbag for his mother, Rosa, for the couple's 32nd wedding anniversary Saturday. When they went to gift-wrap the present, Hernández said the clerk told him, "You are that cop! You have no idea how much we've prayed for you.''
Two years ago the Hernándezes spent their 30th anniversary at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, surrounded by their son's colleagues and superiors, who brought them a cake.
"In these two years, the BSO kept a very close relationship with us, almost like family,'' Mauricio said. "We don't understand why the case is now so tactlessly handled.''
The answer may be in the budget. If Hernández is given a disability retirement, his pension, which would equal his salary, would be paid from sources other than BSO's budget. Except this is not about money, but about honor.
"At police departments there are enough positions assigned to officers wounded while on duty,'' said Alejandro Recio, a retired detective from the Hollywood Police Department. ``If Maury wishes to go back to work, he deserves that right.''
Hernández is not thinking of conceding defeat. He has hired an attorney.
These last few years, life has taught him to challenge all predictions. First he was told he would never walk again. But he walked. Then he was told he would walk only with a cane. He now walks without one, and strolls around a neighborhood lake.
"This is why I believe I can still make a difference in the police department,'' Hernández said. "There is nothing like getting up in the morning and doing the work you love.''