By Selene Raj
As protests against systemic anti-blackness, racial injustice, and police brutality continue around the nation, a Tamarac resident created a petition asking the city to end ties with Broward Sheriff’s Office, and once again have their own police department.
Aralyn Bairan, 16, of Tamarac first proposed the idea in October of 2019, in a meeting where community members and leaders spoke about Commissioner Mike Gelin publicly calling out a BSO officer.
Bairan believes that community policing will restore the fractured relationship between residents and police, and make minorities feel safer.
“Our law enforcement officers are some of the most influential people within the city. They’re the people who will first arrive when your child gets into their first car accident, the people you trust to protect you during a domestic dispute,” she said.
Tamarac residents deserve to be on a first-name basis with these officers, she said.
She understands that this is not something that can be accomplished overnight. It would take years of planning and budgeting to ensure a safe and smooth transition. Her proposal takes that in mind, suggesting a timeline that reaches completion in 2030.
While some residents have suggested patching things up with BSO, rather than cutting ties, Bairan insists that it is unattainable and that BSO has shown no interest in cooperating with the city.
“They were formally invited to the Cops and Community forum hosted by Commissioner Mike Gelin on March 5, to discuss effective community policing. Not one officer showed up from our police force,” said Bairan.
She said that it’s particularly disappointing, given that BSO has been at the center of national scandals in recent years, for misconduct, including Christopher Krickovich and Gregory LaCerra, who are still facing battery and falsifying evidence charges, after the 2019 incident in which they slammed a teenager’s head into the ground.
She listed allegations against BSO, which include a mother whose autistic daughter was handcuffed at an elementary school, a couple being routinely pulled over by police with guns pointed but never receiving a ticket for any wrongdoing, and a young woman who called for help during a dispute but instead was wrongfully arrested in front of her children.
“These are all instances that would be solved through having our own police department,” Bairan said.
Tamarac spends approximately $17 million per year on its contract with BSO. In 1988, the city spent $4,317,002 on the police department. Adjusted for inflation, this amount would be $9,566,394.35.
Spokesperson Elise Boston said they had been utilizing staff from BSO in the capacity of deputy sheriffs are far back as 1981, and that they formalized the relationship with BSO in 1989.
Bairan said any cost prohibition is simply a false narrative. Broward County cities like Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hillsboro Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, and Sunrise have all been able to budget for their own departments.
We reached out several times to the Tamarac Historical Society for comment, as well as their recollection of the Tamarac Police Department, but they did not reply to our emails.
“This is an opportunity,” said Bairan. “With everything going on in the world, Tamarac taking the initiative to spark serious change to combat police misconduct will serve as an example to other communities.”
Tamarac’s contract with BSO is up for renewal in September 2020.
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- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. She's completed her Master's in Mass Communications in 2020, and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate about the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing stories that are as complex and meaningful as the people who live in them.
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