Broward County Florida has some problems within its Sheriffs department. It is building a reputation for lawbreakers among its ranks under the leadership of Sheriff Scott Israel. Starting in 2011, several high profile cases of civil rights violations and criminal charges have been levied at deputies within in the department including Sheriff Scott Israel.
In 2011, former Broward county deputy Paul Fletcher allegedly attacked a woman and stole her phone after he realized she was recording their traffic stop which the Supreme Court has ruled is the first amendment right of all Americans and that police officers have no expectation of privacy while on the job. Fletcher was criminally charged with burglary, battery, criminal mischief and petty theft. It took 3 years for Broward County Persecutors to put Fletcher on trial which started in January of 2014.
In the same month of January that former deputy Paul Fletcher went on trial, a Broward County ethics commission found Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel a Democrat, guilty of breaking the law when he accepted a lavish gift in the form of a family vacation on a yacht with a 12-member crew belonging to campaign donor Robert Pereira that costs almost $200,000 a week to rent. Israel and his family of five claimed they paid $1,500 for a cruise on the NewVida yacht. That is rather huge discount for a private fully staffed yacht over sharing a Carnival Cruise with the public.Israel failed to report his huge savings as a gift as the law requires.
In February another Broward County deputy was accused of breaking the law and almost breaking the wrist of a motorist he stopped while on duty. Lt. William O’Brien has yet to be charged although it is evident he falsified charges against 33-year-old Brandy Berning who filmed her interaction with him during the official traffic stop Lt. Deputy O’Brien was angered after Berning informed him that she was recorded the interaction whereupon he told her she just committed a felony and proceeded to arrest her.
While the ACLU has been arguing this may be a precedent setting case under Florida law,there should be no doubt that the federal courts have already established that it is within the first amendment rights of people to record law enforcement officers who are carrying out official duties and that these officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
And that is not all…
On March 5, 2014 it was reported that Broward County Sheriff Department crime lab chemist is under investigation for stealing drugs checked in for tested and submitted as evidence in pending cases.