The total number of layoffs at the Broward Sheriff's Office could rise even more, Sheriff Al Lamberti told his employees today in an email. Last week, layoff notices went out to 123 workers -- the vast majority in the jails. Another 250 or so are being offered demotions to lower-paying technician jobs. The majority of those losing their job or being demoted are minorities, the biggest segment black -- something that concerns union leaders and black politicians in Broward. But Lamberti says that's a result of increasing minority hiring in recent years and a union contract with a 'last hired first fired' provision.
In a weekly 411 email Lamberti sends to all staff, the sheriff told his 5,500-person agency Friday that even more cuts are possible. Here's the full next of what Lamberti told his staff Friday:
Budget Cuts Racially or Politically Motivated – I am extremely disappointed about allegations that the cuts being made to our budget are politically or racially motivated. We increased and improved our minority hiring in recent years.
Union “rules” as specified in the FOPE contract dictate that the newest employees would be laid off first. According to those contract rules, lay offs are by seniority – in other words, the last people hired would be the first to be laid off. Unfortunately, that means our most junior employees. Operations of our jail systems are 60% of our county portion of the budget, which is where we are going to see the most cuts. As I have said, I struggle with the thought of losing any of our employees to layoffs. As the head of this agency, I am forced to make tough decisions to balance our budget during what is considered the toughest economic downturn in our nation’s history. There is no truth to the statement that any of the cuts we are forced to make are politically or racially motivated… period! Again, they are strictly done by union rules.
Ask the Sheriff Responses – I received two questions through Ask the Sheriff this week and I wanted to provide written responses in my weekly e-mail:
Q: I know you have the best interest at heart for the entire Broward Sheriff's Office and are exhausting all measures to ensure this agency survives these difficult financial times. I know the
Commission has pressed you over and over to trim this agency's budget and that it is a stressful situation for you. I implore you to please attempt to trim the budget without laying off detention staff. Nearly 277 employees are estimated to be laid off. I know this action is definitely not easy for you. Detention Deputies proudly serve this agency, too. Is there anything that can be done besides laying off of detention personnel? Thank you in advance for any reconsideration.
A: Reducing our budget has been a very difficult process. As in most public safety agencies, 80% of our budget is salary and benefits of our personnel. As you know, the
Commission has asked me to cut our budget by 14% or $60 million. That amount is so large that it can only be accomplished by either a reduction in staff (layoffs) or a reduction in personnel costs (salary/benefits) to avoid layoffs. I am doing my best to avoid layoffs; however the budget cuts requested by the
Commission are so large that they can only be done at the expense of our people...either layoffs or salary/benefit reductions. I would suggest that you speak to your employee organization to discuss your feelings with them. I am more than willing to listen to any options that you would like to propose.
Q: There are rumors going around the jails that up to 18 lieutenant positions will be eliminated. Is there any truth to this? If so, where will they work or will they be terminated?
A: As of this time, there are no plans to eliminate any DOD lieutenant positions. However, the budget process is not yet complete. Further budget reductions from what we submitted to the
Commission are possible. If that is the case, further layoffs will likely occur. In that scenario, lieutenant positions could be in jeopardy of being reduced and eliminated. No further decisions have been made regarding the status of DOD lieutenants.