A Message from Sheriff Gregory Tony:
We are all only one major crisis away from homelessness. To understand this startling fact, we need look no further than the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian, which destroyed an untold number of residences and displaced thousands of people into emergency shelters. Many who went to sleep the night before the storm with a home, food, an income and easy access to physical and behavioral healthcare are faced with uncertainties of what’s to come. It can happen that quickly.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Homeless Outreach Team works tirelessly to link displaced community members with the social services necessary to start anew and get back on their feet. Focused on providing care and assistance, the team has at least one specialist in every BSO district working full-time to support and assist these individuals.
Everyone’s story is important. These individuals come from all walks of life with diverse backgrounds, passions and needs. Our Homeless Outreach Team specialists work to build rapport and trust and gain a better understanding of their situation. Sometimes, getting someone to accept assistance may take weeks, months or years, but we’ve had tremendous success by never giving up. Once someone is ready to receive help, we work quickly to connect them with appropriate services.
The men and women of BSO are committed to service – and aiding someone in need is an opportunity we don’t shy away from. In September, off-duty Sergeant Mike Weiner stopped to check on a man sitting alone in his vehicle with a flat tire. Sgt. Weiner, who oversees BSO’s Homeless Outreach Team in Pompano Beach, discovered the man’s name was Hayward. A Vietnam War veteran, Hayward had been homeless for an extended period and had lost contact with his family and friends. With the man’s consent, Sgt. Weiner contacted veteran services. Deputy Mike Francis, who received the 2020 BSO Deputy of the Year Award for his work with our homeless population, contacted a community partner to assist Hayward in getting a hotel room until the Veterans Affairs Division could make accommodations. Hayward has remained in constant contact with our Homeless Outreach Team. He will soon be moving into a Veteran Assisted Living Facility where he can stay indefinitely and receive professional care.
The upcoming holiday season will offer more opportunities to positively impact the lives of our local homeless population. Memories of special times with their loved ones can provoke interest in resolving damaged relationships. Our Homeless Outreach Team spends much of the holidays helping these individuals reunite with family and friends.
The team also takes this time to prepare for weather changes. This past January, South Florida endured the coldest temperatures in over a decade. BSO’s Homeless Outreach Team, in partnership with the Multi-Agency Homeless Task Force, the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership and other community organizations, made an emergency purchase of blankets, socks and other necessities, which our deputies distributed to provide warmth to those in need.
Hope is the most important thing we can provide anyone who needs help. Once someone sees the possibility of recapturing their life, it rejuvenates the belief a successful outcome is attainable. As an organization, we are committed to identifying the needs of the community and meeting them however we can – for most, a little hope is all they require.
Service Equals Reward
Sheriff Gregory Tony
Certain Broward cities like Coconut Creek, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie, Margate, Miramar, Lauderhill, Lighthouse Point, and Coral Springs maintain their police departments; however, BSO does provide communications and dispatch services to the following cities: Central Broward, Cooper City, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Parkland, West Park, Pompano Beach, Port Everglades, Tamarac, Weston and unincorporated West Broward.
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