Florida Sheriff Dismisses Deputy Union Leader After Battle of COVID-19

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (AP) —Sheriff in Florida fired the chairman of his department’s deputy union on Thursday, saying the union leader did not provide the deputy with proper protection against COVID-19. Ended the three-year battle that escalated when he accused him.

In a press release, Browward County Security Officer Gregory Tony said he lied to a local journalist about Bell’s failure to block the election, calling Deputy Jeff Bell “corruption” and “corruption.” He said he was dismissed for being involved in “corruption.” He said the office’s expert standards committee unanimously recommended dismissal.

“Evidence shows that Bell used corruption to prevent me from being elected sheriff by providing false information.” This kind of behavior is always terrible. But it’s even more harmful and shameful during an unprecedented health crisis. “

No one answered the phone at the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Association office Thursday afternoon, and Bell did not immediately respond to the text message from the Associated Press. He told Sun-Sentinel in South Florida that he would fight the shooting in court. A 26-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, Bell has been chairman of a union of 1,400 members since 2015.

“This is very personal to Gregory Tony,” Bell told Fort Lauderdale. “He can’t separate the business from the individual. Whatever you bring to the sheriff’s office, he looks like a personal attack on him.”

Tony was appointed sheriff in 2019 by Governor Ron DeSantis On suspicion of his mishandling of the 2018 massacre after the governor fired former sheriff Scott Israel Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The union initially favored the pick, but Tony and Bell soon began head-to-head after the sheriff. Disciplined agent Because of the alleged excessive force. Bell said the agent was only following Tony’s policy changes. Tony said he didn’t change his policy.

Their hostility reached crescendo in April 2020 after Broward’s agent died of COVID-19.

Shortly after Sun-Sentinel’s death, Bell accused Tony of not providing his agents with sufficient masks and other protections in the early days of the pandemic, and wrote an opinion piece.

“Tony was politically tinkering with facts like Nero when Rome burned,” Bell wrote. “This so-called BSO savior, the distraught Parkland’s parents and the man who took office with the support of the union, failed to demonstrate leadership.”

Tony immediately paused the bell The union president paid for allegations of lying, saying he knew that a government agency had provided his agent with 70,000 masks and hand sanitizers. He ordered Bell to investigate.

Sheriffs said in a 200-page internal affairs report released Thursday that Bell had begun to attack him because he did not promote the union leader to captain.

“He used a pandemic to publicly amplify these complaints and thwart my sheriff candidate,” Tony told investigators.

The highest-ranked Tony held before being appointed sheriff was a sergeant at a suburban police station. He resigned from that department and ran a consulting firm when DeSantis appointed him.

According to the report, when the investigator asked if Tony had asked for a promotion, Bell replied, “Never.” In an interview, he said there were many agents telling investigators that he had not received anything, regardless of what Tony said about the agency distributing anti-COVID masks. Told.

Investigators also asked Bell if he had leaked to the media that Tony was 14 years old and was arrested in 1993 for shooting and killing his 18-year-old neighbor during a battle at his family’s Philadelphia home. .. However, Tony said the shooting was later under the control of self-defense. Tony has been criticized for failing to disclose his arrest to his former employer and DeSantis before being arrested by local media in May 2020, a month after Bell’s suspension.

“I wish I was allowed to provide this to the press, but I didn’t,” Bell told investigators. “If it turns out that elected government officials lied and concealed their involvement in the murder arrest at the time, many voters would want to know about it.”

The story clearly didn’t hurt Tony’s candidacy — he easily defeated former security officer Israel in the Democratic primary and his Republican opponents in the 2020 general election.