MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Days after a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy died from COVID-19, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony held a news conference Tuesday morning to respond to criticism by Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association Union.
Bell wrote an opinion piece on the Sun Sentinel on Monday saying in part, "Broward Sheriff Greg Tony is failing to lead BSO in the face of an unprecedented pandemic menacing South Florida by ignoring the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association Union and our repeated requests for personal protective equipment, and berating our union when we call attention to public safety concerns."
Watch the entire press conference in its entirety here:
Sheriff Tony had this to say during his press conference, "We will spend every dime of this agency to protect this community and the men and women on the front line, we will not come up short and penny-pinch during a time of crisis," said Tony.
Bell said, "we've been fighting for this since the beginning of march and it's a continuing battle with the sheriff to get the proper equipment out there," he said.
Sheriff Tony said Bell is motivated by politics as the world flights a global pandemic. "For any rogue employee to come off and present these comments that we have failed the community and failed the men and women we are leading, it's despicable," Sheriff Tony said.
The sheriff said the agency has already spent more than 1 point 3 million dollars on equipment and has put out more than 25,000 N95 masks, nearly 45 thousand surgical masks and 41 hundred bottles of hand sanitizer.
"The surgical masks don't do anything," said Bell. "They're not the quality enough to protect them from COVID-19. The 25 thousand masks, I'd love to know where he's handing them out because I'm constantly getting text messages and emails from deputies on the street saying they're short on supplies," he said.
So far 547 BSO employees have been impacted by COVID-19 according to the sheriff. That includes 300 who are being monitored, 36 who have tested positive, along with 210 employees who have returned to duty and 1 deputy who died. Deputy Bennett's family stood with Sheriff Tony.
"This has been an insult to their family," Sheriff Tony said. "For us to be standing here and for letters to go out with all this false information, it hurts them."
Bell said 3 unions are now considering holding a "no confidence" vote against the sheriff.
"What angers the deputies is if we know there is not enough equipment and we've been asking for this equipment and the sheriff is going out in the public saying a completely different story, that's what's upsetting to the deputies," he said.
Meanwhile, the family of Deputy Bennett thanked everyone for their prayers and kindness. At the moment, they are planning a private service but said when it's safe they will have a public memorial with BSO, family, and friends.
Current Curfews In South Florida
Drive-Through Testing Locations
Track The Spread Of The Coronavirus In Real Time
Tips To Protect Your Vehicle While It Sits Unused During Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order
for more features.