Monday, February 26, 2007

Broward inmate injury lie test mislaid

The following are excerpts from a Miami Herald article dated February 25, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...A Broward Sheriff's Office polygraph examiner involved in an investigation into how a jail inmate got severe head injuries has a history of manipulating and misinterpreting polygraph tests."

CLARIFICATION: The "history" referred to are two incidents in the 27 years the examiner has been giving polygraph tests.

The first incident was during an investigation when detectives believed a suspect might be persuaded to make certain admissions if he thought a polygraph test showed certain results. In this case, the examiner was instructed to intentionally administer a phony test. Outside of this limited purpose, neither the examiner nor the detectives ever claimed that the test was legitimate, and it was never used against anyone in any legal proceeding.

This incident, since it was ordered by investigators and intentionally staged had nothing to do with the examiner's competence or ability to accurately give polygraph tests. Sometime later, when the examiner was asked if his actions were consistent with the polygrapher's Code of Conduct, he honestly answered that it wasn't.

The second incident involved a reinterpretation of the results of a test. Polygraphy is an art form that largely depends on the examiner's interpretation. Just as you might get different medical opinions from several doctors, it is not uncommon for different examiners to reach different conclusions.

"...Association members are obliged to abide by its standards, and licenses can be revoked. Hoffman's personnel file shows he has been certified for years. Any complaints are kept secret."

CLARIFICATION: For the reader's clarification, Mr. Hoffman's personnel file is public record, available for inspection, and was examined by the reporter who wrote this story. The secret complaints mentioned by the writer are any complaints that may have been filed with the Polygrapher's Association, which is independent from BSO.

Friday, February 23, 2007

To catch a predator, South Florida style

The following are excerpts from a Miami Herald article dated February 22, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...To Catch a Predator, a regular segment on Dateline NBC and the template for this sting, has caught a lot of predators, but it has also caught hell from defense attorneys and civil libertarians for entrapping people and turning their squirming denials and rationalizations into a TV spectacle."

CORRECTION: Procedures for BSO’s Operation Home Alone differed significantly from those used in similar, televised operations. All on line communications were done by trained detectives, not civilian third party organizations. All suspects were arrested, processed and questioned by detectives in accordance with normal arrest procedures. There was no contact between suspects and media before the arrest. There was no contact between suspects and media before suspects were advised of their miranda rights and interviewed by detectives. The only contact between suspects and media was (similar to countless previous cases) when the suspects were being walked to a waiting vehicle to be transported to the Broward County jail.

Publisher's Perspective

The following are excerpts from a Deerfield Beach Observer article dated February 22, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...Specifically, they [Deerfield Beach City Firefighters] are seeking voter approval to borrow $25 million to be spent for additional firefighter related assets, and then, if the ballot passes, give it all, plus another $55 million in Deerfield assets we already own, to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department! That’s an $80 million transfer from the City of Deerfield to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, with the City of Deerfield taxpayer stuck with the bill!"

CLARIFICATION: Mr. Eller remains among the most respected members of the Deerfield Beach community, and as such his voice is a valuable one in the public dialogue. He and Sheriff Ken Jenne remain close colleagues. Yet with regard to Mr. Eller's editorial, it is important to clarify a few items. In cities where the Broward Sheriff's Office provides fire rescue service, Sheriff Ken Jenne contracts with municipalities as a service provider to provide fire rescue services. The fire stations used by BSO Fire Rescue continue to be owned by the cities, remain the property of the cities and its taxpayers and there is no transfer of ownership to BSO. The fire trucks, rescue units, etc. that come from the cities remain in the cities to serve the taxpayers that paid for them. In addition, in the cities where BSO provides fire rescue services, BSO (not the city's taxpayers) pays for the maintenance and repairs of the equipment for the duration of the contracts. In the event a contract is not renewed BSO does not keep the equipment. The equipment is returned to the cities.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

New jails: Is there a need?

The following are excerpts from a Miami Herald article dated February 5, 2007, along with corrections and clarifications regarding the reporting in the story.

"...County commissioners approved $62 million last year to build a 1,000-bed jail in Pompano Beach. When it opens in 2009, it will be the county's third new lockup in less than a decade."

CORRECTION: In fact, the County Commission had budgeted $72 million dollars for the jail construction when the Broward Sheriff's Office offered to manage the project and have the jail built for less money. The Broward Sheriff's Office is not typically involved in the planning and construction of county buildings such as jails, but in this case, BSO is handling the construction for $62 million, saving the county and taxpayers an anticipated $10 million.

"...Critics say new jails don't actually improve public safety."

CORRECTION: Jails are not intended to improve public safety. They are intended to house individuals that the courts or laws require be removed from the general population. Improving public safety is accomplished through a combination of BSO's aggresive law enforcement together with other rehabilitative programs. The Broward Sheriff's Office runs many programs that are responsible for keeping thousands of people who benefit from the help out of jail.

"...The new, 1,000-bed jail will cost $62 million to build, or $62,000 per bed -- nearly double the last jail built, which opened in 2004, costing $36,600 per bed. The jails will be about the same size and layout."

CORRECTION: Building costs have risen significantly since the construction of the last facility. In fact, according to research by the Association of General Contractors of America, "...the cost of materials was flat in 2001, rose moderately in 2002 and 2003, then shot up by 10.1 percent in 2004. In 2005, that index climbed slightly more than the overall PPI [producer price index], 6.1 percent vs. 5.4 percent. In the [first three months of 2006] the construction materials PPI has risen a steep 2.5 percent....".

"...Broward County commissioners turned over the task of planning the new jail to Jenne, who will control which firms get the jail's construction and service contracts....Unlike local cities, whose elected officers must vote to award contracts to vendors at public meeting, the sheriff is the sole decision-maker who awards BSO contracts."

CORRECTION: The Broward Sheriff's Office process for selecting a contractor involved a three-person panel of experts that did not include Sheriff Ken Jenne. The three individuals independently evaluated and rated each bid submitted. Each potential contractor was evaluated on merits. Sheriff Ken Jenne did not submit any names, nor did he select any members of the panel. The final decision was made entirely by the panel.

"...To manage the jail population, Cloney and others say Broward judiciary and law enforcement must focus on reducing the average length of inmate stay, which is currently around 31 days."

CORRECTION: The Broward Sheriff's Office runs several programs designed to reduce the number of inmates, and the length of inmate stay. There are nearly 1,000 people in BSO's Drug Court Treatment Division. Over 700 individuals are currently in BSO's Day Reporting program. An additional 1,900 are part of BSO's electronic monitoring program. BSO also supervises over 4,000 people in our probation division.

"...The sheriff faced harsh questions about his decision for a $127 million, five-year contract he awarded in 2004 to a Coconut Creek-based inmate healthcare firm. The company, Armor Correctional Health Services, is owned by a major campaign contributor whose lobbyists included a close friend of the sheriff."

CORRECTION: For the reader's information, because of Armor's qualifications and performace, several other large agencies have also contracted for their services, including Hillsboro, Palm Beach, Seminole, Martin, Brevard, Glades and Escambia counties to name a few. Due to its quality of service and reputation, it is currently one of the fastest growing jail healthcare providers in the country. One of their executives was also recently selected to serve in a high-level position in the new administration in Tallehassee.