Thursday, December 28, 2006

Inhospitable welcome at Fort Lauderdale Airport

The following is a response to a recent letter to the editor published in the Miami Herald.

After reading the December 15th letter (Inhospitable welcome at Fort Lauderdale Airport), we thought it was important to clarify the security precautions and rules in place to protect travelers. The current Federal government alert level at our nation’s airports prohibits any car from sitting at a terminal for any period of time. Broward County also has ordinances that prohibit parking or sitting in front of terminals.

We all sympathize with the prior writer’s frustrations regarding his friend’s lost luggage and his attempt to park and wait for him outside the terminal. The holiday travel season is often a stressful time. It would, of course, be easier if we were allowed to park and wait at the terminals. Unfortunately, the reality we now live in no longer permits such a casual approach to security. The fact is that no deputy, officer or federal agent responsible for airport security can ever know the true intentions of anyone who has stopped his car beside an airport terminal. If a car is parked without someone getting in or out, it must be viewed with a suspicious eye. The rules, while perhaps frustrating to the well-intentioned, are meant to frustrate the efforts of individuals whose intentions are more sinister.

The writer’s inconvenience of being asked to move his car was probably minimal compared to the delays we might all experience if federal rules required each car to be searched before entering the airport. Such a time-consuming inspection might be the only way to ensure a vehicle is safe. As an alternative, the airport provides a free cell phone waiting lot as well as 15 minutes of free parking in short term lots to accommodate those meeting arriving passengers.

Security measures not withstanding, there are also simple traffic concerns with allowing drivers to wait outside terminals. On an average day, over sixty-thousand people pass through the airport. Imagine the congestion that would be created if drivers were allowed to wait for arriving passengers in their cars outside the terminals.

Of course no one likes to receive a traffic ticket, but the previous writer’s ticket was probably based on his repeated disregard for the rules (he admitted at least five attempts at stopping in front of the terminal). As for the noticeable police presence mentioned by the writer, it is both a comfort to travelers as well as an effective deterrence to criminals.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

BSO Statement on arrest of deputy

The following is the statement from the Broward Sheriff's Office regarding the arrest of Deputy Lazaro Mesa:

"The BSO internal affairs investigation into Deputy Mesa was opened the same day of the alleged incident, and within hours of receiving the first complaint. That same day he was immediately pulled off the street and reassigned until his recent suspension without pay.

As for the criminal charges, it was BSO that brought the case to the State Attorney's Office. While bearing in mind that every deputy is always entitled to due process and presumed innocent, we are taking these allegations extremely seriously.

While the State Attorney pursues possible criminal charges, the BSO Internal Affairs Unit will continue its internal investigation."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cuckoo for Coconuts

The following are excerpts from a New Times article dated December 21, 2006.

"...Those are the first things that the mayor [of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea] brings up when asked about the issue that is ripping his quaint and unique beach burg apart: The hostile takeover of the town's fire services by the Broward Sheriff's Office."

CORRECTION: BSO Fire Rescue did not "take over" fire service in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, nor could it. In all the cities and towns where BSO provides public safety services, it has been the elected leaders of the municipality, not Sheriff Ken Jenne, that made the decision to contract with BSO for service. Likewise, it was the elected Town Council in LBTS that decided two years ago to contract with BSO for fire service. Since then, BSO Fire Rescue has always been the Town's primary provider of fire and emergency services. That has not changed.

"...The sheriff's office then locked the volunteers out of the town firehouse and commandeered their fire trucks and equipment."

CORRECTION: With the exception of one older fire truck that was too old to be in service, the volunteers did not own the fire trucks used in LBTS. The fire trucks used by the volunteers have always belonged to the Town. In fact, the trucks used by BSO also belong to the Town. The contract between BSO and the Town allows BSO to use these trucks for the duration of the agreement. As for the older truck, it belongs to the volunteers and remains in their possession.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Protest planned to convice BSO that canal sweeps may find missing people

The following are excerpts from a Sun-Sentinel article dated December 17, 2006.

"...Missing Children International Ministries, based in Pembroke Pines, wants the Broward Sheriff's Office to search the canal for cars and bodies but said detectives and officials keep brushing them off."

CLARIFICATION: The Broward Sheriff's Office searches canals almost daily. Our helicopters fly over canals and search for submerged vehicles from the air. Since the dark, murky water makes it difficult to see more than a few feet below the surface, BSO pilots are trained to spot other signs such as oil slicks, broken guard rails or tire tracks leading to the water. The location of any discovered car is passed to the BSO Dive Team which investigates every single report.

The diving conditions in these canals are among the most difficult faced under water. Visibility is zero. Divers are unable to see their hands in front of their faces. Dangerous chemicals polute the waters along with leaking fluids from the submerged cars.

In addition to our regular patrols, BSO is also staging a major operation in January with insurance officials to recover stolen cars in area canals.

"...Perry said she thinks the dark water of the area's canals could hold the answers to the mystery surrounding scores of disappearances, especially cases where the missing person's car vanished, too."

CLARIFICATION: The facts are that the majority of submerged cars are dumped by car thieves, or car owners looking to defraud their auto insurance company. In nearly 20 years, BSO divers have rarely recovered a body during a random canal sweep. All the victims that have been located have been part of an active investigation or the result of specific tips that led divers to a specific location.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blast E-mail from the Lauderdale By The Sea Times

The following are excerpts from a blast e-mail from the Lauderdale By The Sea Times during the week of December 11, 2006.
"...[The VFD was dismissed ] by a cash hungry Sheriff Jenne, [and] residents of LBTS pay more per capital for fire service and police service for Jenne’s troops then anyone else"


  1. The fire agreement between the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and BSO is a $2 million dollar contract in Sheriff Ken Jenne's overall BSO budget of $700 million dollars. It represents less than 1/3 of 1% of BSO's budget. It is also a contract from which BSO makes zero profit.

  2. As for the cost to the Town, LBTS is a barrier island community that - for public safety reasons - must have a minimun of one fire engine and one rescue ambulance ON THE ISLAND to respond to emergencies. While critics claim the town population may be approximately one third the size of other similarly equipped communities, it is impossible to staff LBTS with one third of an engine, or one third of a rescue. On the other hand, while the Town only pays for one fire truck and one rescue, BSO sends to every structure fire call in the Town a total of 3 engines, 2 rescues, 1 arial truck and two battalion chiefs at no additional cost to the Town.

"...[LBTS Town Commissioner John] Yanni works for BSO and in any sense of fairness should not have been allowed to vote to remove the Volunteers."

CORRECTION: It should be pointed out that LBTS Commissioner Jerry Mcintee is an Assistant Chief with the volunteers, and LBTS Commissioner Jim Silverstone is the Chief of the volunteers. Yet both men routinely and repeatedly voted on Town issues regarding the VFD without ever citing any conflict of interest.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Letter by Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Volunteer Fire Department to LBTS Residents

The following are excerpts from a letter by the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Volunteer Fire Department to the residents of the Town dated November 28th, 2006.
"...The illegal actions of the BSO in locking your volunteers out of your fire station, and taking possession of all the fire trucks and equipment that had been purchased with your dollars and making it their own; shows the blatent disregard BSO has for due process."

  1. The termination of the LBTS volunteers was legal, and followed the process agreed upon by both sides in the contract between BSO and the volunteers.
  2. When the Town contracted with BSO for fire service, the Town turned over two fire engines to BSO. BSO uses those trucks to serve the residents of the Town. But both trucks would be given back to the Town if BSO were no longer the Town's fire service provider. A third truck purchased by the volunteers but too old to be used for fire service remains the property of the volunteers.

"...[BSO] broke in to our file cabinet and rifled through our personnel files, extricating personal information illegally."

CORRECTION: When BSO terminated the contract with the volunteers, a fully documented inventory was done at Station 12. Records show no cabinets were broken into, and no personnel files were "rifled through."

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

By-The-Sea Times - Comments by Commissioner Jerry McIntee

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "Have They No Conscience?" by Commissioner Jerry McIntee in the publication By The Sea Times.
"... Who cares what the people want, who cares about the 50 years of continuous service to this town by the LBTS-VFD, who cares that the Sheriff’s Department just took from the taxpayers of Lauderdale By The Sea $750,000 in fire equipment, bought with your tax dollars, now safety tucked under the Sheriff’s Christmas tree, what a nice gift!"

CORRECTION: Any fire equipment purchased by the Town has always belonged to and remains the property of the Town. BSO Fire Rescue, as the Town's contracted fire service provider, uses that equipment for the duration of the contract between the Town and BSO. If that contract ends, the equipment will be returned to the Town.