Monday, March 19, 2007

Charity spends little, hoards a bundle

The following is information that was given to the Miami Herald related to the article dated March 18, 2007, but was not included in their reporting of the story.


The money. The $1.5 million from the case settlement remains in a restricted account within the Foundation. The money was originally reserved for a regional data/intelligence project that BSO began creating several years ago. The state-led Florida Department of Law Enforcement took note of BSO's project, and asked that BSO suspend its project until FDLE could create a system to be used across Florida. The FDLE continues to work on developing an intelligence database that will join together agencies across the state.

Therefore, to report that the Foundation is "hoarding" the money is incorrect. The money remains designated for the regional data/intelligence project. BSO joins several other large agencies on a task force to continually re-evaluate technological advances and how best to serve the Southeast region with an advanced data/intelligence product.

What can the money be used for? The rules governing what the money can be spent on were developed with consultation by the same federal government officials that allocated the money to the Southeast Regional Domestic Security Taskforce. Those rules, while including environmental concerns, also include emergency response improvements. There is no language in the approved resolution that indicates the money can only be used for environmental purposes. As a matter of fact, Judge Michael Moore specifically signed the Special Conditions of Supervision which required the defendant (Carnival Cruise Lines) to pay $2 million to the “Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County – Domestic Security Task Force.”

It should be noted that the Foundation is a private charity not funded by public tax dollars, not run by the Broward Sheriff's Office, and controlled by an independent Board of Directors. All expenditures of monies of the Foundation must be approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Board of Directors are self-selected. Sheriff Jenne is an ex-officio board member and not a voting member of the Board of Directors.

Countywide Counseling of Officers. It is noted in the article that countywide counseling for officers with job-related stress or drinking problems was never funded. That is incorrect. There is funding available in the Foundation. To-date, there has not been a request for this type of service.