As the first Black sheriff of Broward County, Gregory Tony has achieved this through perseverance and a stubbornness, which has helped him get where he is today. On August 5th, American Heritage hosted a live online student event with the Sheriff as a guest speaker. Over 90 students in grades 9-12 attended and had the chance to have their voices heard through the questions they asked about racial equality, police reform, and what they can do to advocate for change in our community.
After he graduated high school, Sheriff Tony left Philly with $500 to his name and flew to Florida State University where he was a star football player and a scholar athlete. He launched his law enforcement career after that, which brings us to today.
Since he assumed leadership of BSO in January 2019, Sheriff Tony has successfully implemented numerous programs focused on training, building stronger community relationships, and providing youth with expanded opportunities for success.
“Whatever your challenges are, whatever things you look at as a disadvantage, find a way to turn it into an advantage,” Sheriff Tony said to the students, speaking from his own experiences. “Whatever it is you are putting yourself on a path for, it is on you. Hardships are going to come, injustices are going to occur, people will treat you unfairly, but don’t throw in the towel. Don’t find it as an excuse to quit,”
Sheriff Tony has been engaged with social justice task forces in an effort to listen to the community and mitigate issues with the police. He has strategically re-allocated funding and invested a million dollars to do something that has never been done in any county throughout the U.S., which is to mandate every law enforcement officer undergo racial equity and implicit bias training. In addition, he initiated the BSO Youth Mentoring program requiring an additional million dollars in funding to enable young citizens to engage in financial literacy, civic responsibilities, and career development.
One last question from a student inquired about what citizens can do if they see something that should be reported. Sheriff Tony’s response: The best way a citizen can intervene is by phone or written correspondence. The information is then filtered to the appropriate division chain of command. Additionally, citizens may report information through the SaferWatch app in which you have the ability to anonymously report through text or recording real time information about a suspicious person or an issue. The app is connected to a real time crime center with real time cameras for the quickest response possible.
For more information and to learn more about the law enforcement initiatives in Broward County, visit Sheriff Tony’s website.