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Former Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro dies

Nick NavarroNick Navarro, a flamboyant former undercover narcotics detective who served two terms as Broward County sheriff, died Wednesday. He had been ill with cancer.

The Cuban-born Navarro sent shock waves through Broward's overwhelmingly Democratic political establishment when he announced he would run for sheriff in 1984. The job had long been a patronage machine for Democrats, and Navarro's candidacy was a threat to that (the job was then occupied by a former county judge, George Brescher, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Bob Graham after Bob Butterworth resigned to take a state appointment in Tallahassee).

Further stoking the controversy was the fact that Navarro, a former Democrat, had switched parties to run as a Republican less than six months before filing his candidacy papers. The law at the time required a six-month gap between party-switching and running for office. Democrats sued to knock Navarro off the ballot, resulting in a public relations nightmare for the party -- a judge ruled that Navarro could run and voters should decide for themselves.

During his tenure, the Broward Sheriff’s Office doubled its personnel to 3,000 and saw its budget increase from $75 million to $200 million. BSO took over law enforcement for three Broward cities: Dania Beach, Tamarac and Deerfield Beach.

As sheriff, Navarro was a fixture on nightly newscasts, not always for good. His deputies set up a homemade lab where they made rocks of crack cocaine to use in sting operations at a time when the streets of Broward County were ravaged by the drug.

He arrested a Fort Lauderdale record store owner for selling copies of rapper Luther Campbell's raunchy album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be.

Other controversies chipped away at Navarro's popularity, and in a bigger shock than his 1984 election. Republicans ousted him from office in the 1992 primary election, which drew only a tiny fraction of voters because it was held shortly after Hurricane Andrew. More here.

-- Steve Bousquet


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wayne arnold

He was a great Sheriff and a good friend. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. My sympathy goes out to his loving wife Sharron during this sad and difficult time.

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