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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Since its inception in 2019, the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office (BSO) LGBTQ+ Committee has worked tirelessly to achieve goals that make Broward County more inclusive and highlight the role the BSO’s LGBTQ+ Committee plays in the communities we serve.
Specifically, the LGBTQ+ Committee has participated in policy and training discussions to improve treatment and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals, increased outreach with the Broward County LGBTQ+ community, and spearheaded efforts to increase visibility across social media platforms. Recent committee activities include the following:
Additionally, the LGBTQ+ Committee continues to increase law enforcement recruiting efforts in the LGBTQ+ community and regularly consults with the BSO’s Training Division to provide important training and educational opportunities to BSO employees to enhance awareness and understanding of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
The BSO’s LGBTQ+ Committee began in 2019 as an opportunity for BSO employees to have an internal platform to share their thoughts and ideas regarding how the BSO shows support for LGBTQ+ employees and community. The first meeting took place three years ago between newly appointed Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony and more than 40 employees from all of the BSO’s divisions. During that meeting, Lieutenant Paul Auerbach freely spoke his mind about the dialogue the LGBTQ+ Committee wanted to engage in.
“This was an all cards on the table, speak your mind environment,” Lieutenant Auerbach recalls. “At the conclusion of the meeting, the sheriff not only heard us, but listened. We became empowered to be a part of the solution and the committee was officially created.”
Sheriff Tony said he wholeheartedly supports the committee’s efforts.
“Recognizing the LGBTQ+ community must extend beyond Pride Month,” Tony said. “BSO is made up of people from all walks of life, all races, colors, and creeds. It is our duty to be respectful and inclusive in our dealings with everyone we encounter, and that begins with recognizing and honoring the differences of the men and women who work for this agency.”
Since then, the committee’s purpose has expanded both inside and outside of the BSO. For instance, the LGBTQ+ Committee has liaisons in divisions throughout the agency, and also provides a personal point of contact between the BSO and the LGBTQ+ community and assists, advises, and consults with BSO leadership and other deputies on issues involving the LGBTQ+ community.
“Internally, having this community representation in these BSO departments serves as an ‘olive branch’ to the community and our external efforts serve to foster positive community interactions,” Auerbach said.
The LGBTQ+ Committee also meets with business owners, community groups, and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community to discuss public safety matters and provides a direct line of communication to discuss community concerns regarding crimes directed against the LGBTQ+ community.
There are numerous other accomplishments in pursuit of greater understanding and awareness. Notably, the LGBTQ+ Committee has provided a law enforcement liaison to one of the BSO’s contract cities, which helped that city receive its first perfect score on the Equality Index. The LGBTQ+ Committee also participated in the 2022 Gender and Sexualities Summit of the Broward County Public Schools Department of Equity and Diversity. At this summit, committee members engaged in an open discussion with high school students about LGBTQ+ community members working in public safety.
Committee members have also served on panels to address the history between law enforcement and the LGBTQ+ community and provided security for an LGBTQ+ Summer Prom, facilitated by Julian’s Fountain of Youth Foundation.
“We will continue to collaborate with community leaders, residents, and businesses to design and implement projects and programs to establish a closer, more effective dialogue between BSO and the LGBTQ+ community,” Sheriff Tony said.
Lieutenant Paul Auerbach, BSO
Carey Codd, Senior Public Information Officer, BSO
Images Courtesy of the Broward County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office.
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