South Florida supporters excited about Trump inauguration; others wary

“I’m very excited. I’m very optimistic,” he said. “Things are going to change. People are going to be held accountable, finally.”

Citing companies that have been jawboned by the president-elect, and are altering plans to export jobs or announcing plans to bring jobs back to the U.S., VanderVoort said Trump has already produced positive results.

Veronica Block, 46, of Delray Beach, is a registered Democrat and part-time photographer. Voted for Clinton.

Block started volunteering for Clinton at a June 2015 organizing meeting in Pompano Beach. “Of course I’m disappointed, but I have to accept the fact that [Trump] won. I am not going to obsess about it. I have to accept it and move on,” she said.

Block said part of the acceptance process for her means getting some distance and perspective. She vacationed in Iceland after the election. And she’s not planning to attend any counter-inaugural events. “I’m just staying away right now from all the negativity around the fact that he won, and just keep moving forward and do what I can do to make this country a better place.”

Block said she doesn’t think Trump needs to stop tweeting when he’s sworn in, but she’d like him to dial down some of his comments. “Tweeting is how you communicate these days,” she said.

Kathy Palacio, 64, of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, is a Republican who is retired from the landscape nursery business. Voted for Trump.

Palacio is “very optimistic. I’m excited and a little nervous because of all the obstacles in his way and all these groups trying to fight him.”

Still, she said, she expects a successful presidency. “He’s a very good negotiator. And he’s definitely got our country’s interest first,” she said. “He is going to have a very good impact on the economy.”

Palacio expects Trump to keep his promises. No. 1 for her: repealing Obamacare.

As president, she’d like Trump to maintain his presence on Twitter. “There’s some times he doesn’t maybe think it out before he does some of his tweets.” But on balance, she said, it’s good for people to hear directly what’s on their president’s mind.

Robert Heller, 32, of Davie, is a registered Independent who works as a server. Voted for Clinton.

“Hopefully he can do the best he can do. It’s nothing we have any control over. I’m not going to be bitter about the election. It is what it is,” he said, adding that he’s “not positive or negative. Basically I just hope that things will change for this country like he says.”

Heller said he likes Trump’s definitive style. “He puts his foot down. He’s not scared to talk.” Still, he said, he isn’t a fan of Trump’s tweeting. “He’s always putting down people,” Heller said. “He should be doing other things with his time.”

Andrew Brett, 52, of Wilton Manors, is a Republican who works in sales and marketing. Voted for Trump.

Looking to the inauguration, Brett is “totally excited. I’m not nervous at all.”

“He’s done more since the election than Barack Obama’s done in the last eight years. … There are [jobs] coming back here to the United States because of him,” he said.

He said Trump’s tweeting is “brilliant. You know why? Because when he tweets he says what’s on his mind and the media has to respond.”

Elizabeth Robinson, 81, of Fort Lauderdale, is a registered Republican and retired registered nurse. Voted for Clinton — the first time she ever voted for a Democrat for president.

“I’m a little cautious, but I hope he does well. I hope everybody gets behind him. The election’s over and we’re going to have a new president, and everybody wants the country to do well and Trump to do well,” she said.

Robinson isn’t confident that Trump will be able to keep his promises. “I’m pleased about that. I think he made some pretty profound statements and I hope he doesn’t carry those through — about the wall and Mexicans and about immigration, about how he was going to put Hillary in jail.”

Robinson said she isn’t a fan of Trump on Twitter. “He should concentrate on other things.”

Angela R. Mann, 57, of Boca Raton, is a registered Republican and pharmacist. Voted for Trump.

Just before the first Florida rally of Trump’s presidential campaign, in October 2015, Mann predicted that “Donald Trump will be our next president, without any doubts.” On Friday, she will be in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.

“I supported Trump on the very first day that he decided to run. I supported Trump through this election and will support Trump for the next eight years. Yes, I did say eight years. I then hope to support and vote for his daughter Ivanka, who I believe will one day run for president. I had a strong vision and believe that this will become reality,” Mann said by email.

Bob Scott, 62, of Okeechobee (formerly Wilton Manors) is a Republican who works as a project engineer. Voted for Trump.

“I’m excited for the future,” he said, a feeling that’s renewed “every time you look at his Twitter feed. I’m very confident that this will work out fine.”

He said Trump’s direct communication with people via social media “is the best thing in the world. I’d like to see him tone it down on occasion, but that’s me. I’m not the president. He can do whatever he wants. If he wants to tell it like it is, like he has all along, then tell it.”

He wishes people who didn’t vote for Trump would root for him to succeed. “He ain’t getting no respect. But that’s OK, he’s a big man.” His message to Democrats: “Get in the back of the bus the way you told us to and let’s see if Donald can drive.”

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-trump-inauguration-florida-view-20170114-story.html

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Armed man robs credit union in Coral Springs, FBI says

The FBI is searching for the armed, ballcap-wearing man who robbed a Coral Springs credit union.

The Priority One Credit Union branch at 1700 N. University Drive was robbed shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday.

The FBI released a surveillance image of the person who the agency says went into the credit union, displayed a weapon and demanded money from an employee.

The picture shows a man with facial hair who is wearing a Miami Marlins baseball cap, a dark long-sleeve, button up shirt and dark pants or jeans.

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Wilton Manors doctor and assistant illegally sold human growth hormone, other drugs, feds say

A Wilton Manors doctor and his medical assistant were released from jail Thursday but face federal charges they illegally supplied prescription drugs, mostly human growth hormone, to so-called patients.

Dr. Dominic Riganotti, 50, of Parkland, and Jacquelin Fernandez, 41, of Coral Springs, were arrested Wednesday after federal and local agencies raided the Wilton Manors practice where they worked and Fernandez’s home.

Riganotti’s medical office is in the 1800 block of Northeast 26th Street.

Riganotti and Fernandez briefly appeared Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He was released on a $200,000 bond, and she was released on a $100,000 bond.

Broward doctor, assistant arrested on prescription drug allegations

Broward doctor, assistant arrested on prescription drug allegations

A Broward doctor and his medical assistant were arrested on prescription drug charges Wednesday, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dr. Dominic Riganotti, 50, of Parkland, was arrested after a six-month investigation that showed he illegally supplied methamphetamine to some…

A Broward doctor and his medical assistant were arrested on prescription drug charges Wednesday, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Dr. Dominic Riganotti, 50, of Parkland, was arrested after a six-month investigation that showed he illegally supplied methamphetamine to some…

(Paula McMahon)

Both are accused of conspiring to illegally distribute human growth hormone, court records show.

Undercover “patients” who secretly recorded their interactions with the doctor and his assistant provided evidence they were allowed to buy controlled prescription drugs, for cash, at the medical office and Fernandez’s home, according to court records.

Both confessed when they were arrested, agents testified.

The doctor also told agents he had methamphetamine hidden inside a wall socket in his medical office during the search and they seized it, authorities said.

Agents began an undercover investigation after they received information in September that Riganotti was prescribing an unusually large amount of testosterone and narcotics, and was suspected of medical fraud, according to court records.

Riganotti is also accused of illegally supplying other prescription drugs and possession of methamphetamine. The most serious allegation against him carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison.

Fernandez is also accused of using her daughter, who is a minor, to deliver some of the drugs to some of the clients who went to her home, records show. Both charges against Fernandez carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison.

pmcmahon@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4533 or Twitter @SentinelPaula

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-broward-doctor-hgh-20170112-story.html

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Authorities round up mail theft suspects in ‘Operation Hook, Line & Sinker’

Seven South Florida residents were rounded up in early-morning raids Thursday in connection with a ring of mail thieves who were allegedly altering and cashing checks they fished out of postal collection boxes.

The arrests were part of “Operation Hook, Line Sinker,” a yearlong investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Coral Springs Police Department and Miami Dade Police Department in collaboration with the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Investigators said the group used theft methods as simple as putting string with something sticky at the end — duct tape, for example — inside a mailbox and snagging envelopes. During a Thursday afternoon news conference, investigators demonstrated how some of the homemade devices can be used to reach down and pull mail out of the boxes.

“They are taking these devices, they are placing them in collection boxes and literally fishing the outbound mail from collection boxes,” said Antonio Gomez, inspector in charge at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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Teen driver in crash that killed Coral Springs teacher is charged with vehicular homicide

A Fort Lauderdale teenager accused of driving a stolen car and being involved in a crash that left a Parkland woman dead was charged with vehicular homicide, grand theft auto and 14 other offenses.

The Broward state attorney’s office is charging Eric Janard Abraham, 17, of Fort Lauderdale, as an adult.

A judge ordered bonds totaling $666,000 during Abraham’s court appearance Wednesday, when he wore an orange jumpsuit and used a walker.

Christianne Weiner, 53, taught fourth-graders at Coral Springs Elementary School before her death Dec. 27. Her students and colleagues were offered grief counseling when they returned to class Jan. 9, the school district said.

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Broward deputy accused of shoplifting at WalMart 7 times, once while in uniform, records show

A Broward sheriff’s deputy finds himself suspended without pay and facing a felony charge after being accused of shoplifting everyday household items from two WalMarts in Coral Springs, according to records obtained Friday by the Sun Sentinel.

Surveillance video shows Deputy Dean Korenic, 46, shoplifting on seven occasions, investigators say. He was in uniform one of the times and drove away with his stolen goods in a marked patrol car three other times, records show.

A 14-year veteran of the agency, Korenic was arrested Tuesday and spent a night in jail before posting $3,500 bond on a felony charge of scheme to defraud/obtain property under $20,000, records show.

“In review of the video … the theft was apparent and intentional,” an affidavit said. “The thefts were committed both in and out of BSO uniform.” Sheriff’s officials would not provide the videos to the Sun Sentinel Friday.

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County Commission candidate seeks appointment from governor

A County Commission candidate hopes to win a seat with just one person’s vote — the governor’s.

Randal Cutter, a pastor from Coral Springs, applied to be appointed by the governor to the empty District 3 seat representing northwest Broward. Cutter, a Republican, is running for the seat in November against Michael Udine, a Democrat who is mayor of Parkland. Write-in candidate Raymark Alberto Clement also is in the race.

Cutter said when he read that others had applied for the appointment, he worried voters would be confused.

“I needed to let the governor know there was a legitimate candidate running for the seat,” he said in an email. “I didn’t think it would give any advantage to be appointed and, in fact, might actually hurt because of the perception of unfair advantage. However, I also felt that if he appointed anyone else, it would confuse the issue in Broward County and could potentially hurt my campaign.”

Governor accepting applications for Broward County Commission

Governor accepting applications for Broward County Commission

It’s not easy for a Republican to be elected to the County Commission in Broward, where the largest group of voters are Democrats.

But two local Republicans are hoping they can be appointed to a seat, even if it’s just a four-month stint.

The Northwest Broward District 3 seat was vacated in early…

It’s not easy for a Republican to be elected to the County Commission in Broward, where the largest group of voters are Democrats.

But two local Republicans are hoping they can be appointed to a seat, even if it’s just a four-month stint.

The Northwest Broward District 3 seat was vacated in early…

(Brittany Wallman)

There’s no certainty the governor will make an appointment, but a spokeswoman from his office said he’s still accepting applications.

Here’s who has applied so far. All are Republicans:

• Thomas Powers, former Coral Springs commissioner and current governor-appointee to Children’s Services Council.

• Levi Williams, a lawyer who has held gubernatorial appointments in the past. He has a photo of himself with the governor on his law firm website and was Broward chairman of the governor’s 2010 campaign.

• Randal Cutter, pastor of New Dawn Community Church.

Church, state and the County Commission race

Church, state and the County Commission race

If you don’t pay property taxes, is it OK to complain about them?

One of the three people running to replace Stacy Ritter on the Broward County Commission, in Northwest Broward’s District 3, is a church pastor. The church-owned house he lives in is exempt from property taxes.

Pastor Randal Cutter…

If you don’t pay property taxes, is it OK to complain about them?

One of the three people running to replace Stacy Ritter on the Broward County Commission, in Northwest Broward’s District 3, is a church pastor. The church-owned house he lives in is exempt from property taxes.

Pastor Randal Cutter…

(Brittany Wallman)

• Leslie “Ken” Barnett, a past gubernatorial appointee to the South Broward Hospital District.

• Robert Sutton, chairman of the Broward Republican Party.

• Francis “Rico” Petrocelli, former Plantation councilman who is running for mayor there in 2018, former chairman of Broward Republican Party and past gubernatorial appointee to Broward Housing Council.

Like all of the County Commission districts, District 3 leans Democrat.

bwallman@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4541. On Twitter @BrittanyWallman and @BrowardPolitics.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-broward-commission-opening-20160906-story.html

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Panthers have taken over youth hockey program, hope to keep budding stars in South Florida

Last June, five young men who began their youth hockey careers playing for the Junior Panthers in Coral Springs realized their dreams by being drafted by NHL organizations.

However, a less attractive common denominator among Jakob Chychrun, Riley Stillman, Andrew Peeke, Chase Priske and Brandon Duhaime was that they all had to leave South Florida as young teens to East Coast hotbeds in Michigan, Massachusetts and Canada to truly hone their skills to make it to the next level.

The rapidly improving Florida Panthers intend to put an end to that.

While the Junior Panthers proudly represented the Panthers for the past 19 years, their only real connections were the crests on their jerseys and state-of-the-art three-sheet IceDen facility. Now, the Panthers have completely taken over the youth hockey program and have hired a new management team.

Bates, a Boston native who played professional hockey in London, added: “We will create a training center of excellence.”

A few weeks ago, Panthers general manager Tom Rowe held court at a meeting in the BBT Center in which he, president/CEO Matt Caldwell, executive chairman Peter Luukko, J.B Spisso, the director of leadership and cultural development, and newly hired members of the IceDen management team met with 400 parents of youth hockey players.

The Panthers’ contingent explained how they studied other successful youth programs around the country that had direct affiliations with NHL teams, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ elite junior program.

Panthers director of community relations talks about grassroots program for youth

Panthers director of community relations talks about grassroots program for youth

Florida Panthers director of community relations John Colombo talks about all the grassroots hockey program the Panthers are offering children to spark their interest in the sport.

Florida Panthers director of community relations John Colombo talks about all the grassroots hockey program the Panthers are offering children to spark their interest in the sport.

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“It’s vital we have a great youth hockey program and build a family atmosphere in the IceDen,” Rowe said. “Some of my best friends in life came from my days in youth hockey. I love to be part of the community, and it’s important we’re not sitting on the sidelines.

“Also, it’s nice to create a diehard fan base for years to come. The second piece is [owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu] feel it’s our responsibility to develop these programs to a level where the kids go on to play college hockey or the pros. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Division I or III.

“The combination of playing hockey and [school] combines to create more rounded people, even if they don’t become NHL players.”

Rowe said that the Panthers’ youth program will have a symbiotic relationship with other ice skating rinks in South Florida, particularly with Olli Jokinen’s newly formed South Florida Hockey Academy in the Glacier Ice and Snow Arena in Lighthouse Point. They will compete against each other on the ice, and if Jokinen has an overflow of players he would send them to the Junior Panthers.

Adam Torregrossa’s 9-year-old son Jonathan is a forward for the Squirt A Major travel team. Torregrossa, a Panthers season-ticket holder, said it cost approximately $7,000 per year for a travel team player, with $3,800 going to the Panthers for participation fees. He was impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment from the Panthers’ brass at the meeting.

“I don’t think anyone wants their child to leave home and live in someone else’s house and you get to pay attention from phone calls after the game,” said Torregrossa, of Coral Springs. “I really felt their commitment because in the past the communication was absent. Now when you go to the IceDen it has more of a hockey feel, and we don’t feel like we’re taking a back seat to figure skating. There’s a vision and goal just like the NHL team over time.”

The Panthers hired Keith Fine to replace Jeff Campol as general manager of the IceDen. Like several other executives in the Panthers’ organization, including Viola, Caldwell, co-GM Eric Joyce and Spisso, Fine developed his leadership skills at West Point and in the Army.

“We want to provide a world-class facility and the next three years we want to grow from 10 Junior Panthers teams to where we are currently to 25 teams,” said Fine, 30, a former professional handball player. “We will bring the best coaches from around the country to provide the best programs on ice, the clinics.

“With buy-in support from [the Panthers and their alumni], we want to create the most organized structured program and provide a fun experience for these kids on and off the ice.”

John Colombo, a carryover from the previous regime who is director of community relations, is putting sticks in kids’ hands as young as 4 years old in his Learn to Play program. He has also initiated a Floor Ball hockey program that will be played in Dade and Broward county schools this Fall.

Other key members of the IceDen team are Matthew Janusz, the youth hockey manager, and Panthers chief of staff Sean McCaffrey.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-florida-panthers-0903-20160903-story.html

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Buyer linked to charter schools purchases Parkland parcel for $5M, records show

— A company linked to a charter school organization has bought a tract of land in Parkland, marking a potential first step toward opening the city’s first charter school.

This week, the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office confirmed a landowner, Debuys Property Investment Group, sold the 10.5-acre parcel at the corner of University Drive and Hillsboro Boulevard on May 9 for $5 million.

The property appraiser’s office said the sale to Parkland School Property LLC — an entity that shares the same business address as Academica Charter Schools Facility LLC — has not yet been logged in the public record. That’s because the property appraiser is awaiting clarification on a legal description issue.

Parkland School Property LLC’s registered agent is Rosanne Wright, state business records show. Wright also has been affiliated with Academica, a Miami-based charter school management company that runs Somerset Charter School, records show. Wright couldn’t be reached for comment.

Southwest Airlines plans growth at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport

Caption Southwest Airlines plans growth at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport

Southwest Airlines launched nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale and Nassau Bahamas  Sunday. More new international routes on tap when Terminal 1 improvements are done.

Southwest Airlines launched nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale and Nassau Bahamas  Sunday. More new international routes on tap when Terminal 1 improvements are done.

Time's running out: Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday ends Sunday

Caption Time’s running out: Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday ends Sunday

Find out what’s tax free during Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday on Aug. 5-7.

Find out what’s tax free during Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday on Aug. 5-7.

Widow of Army veteran killed while crossing road pushes for crosswalk

Caption Widow of Army veteran killed while crossing road pushes for crosswalk

Doris Span of Tamarac plans to attend Tuesday’s Commission meeting in Sunrise to get city officials to help persuade Broward County to add an on-demand light and crosswalk near a VA clinic in Sunrise

Doris Span of Tamarac plans to attend Tuesday’s Commission meeting in Sunrise to get city officials to help persuade Broward County to add an on-demand light and crosswalk near a VA clinic in Sunrise

Deputies: Pompano man's double killing spree touched off by road rage, revenge

Caption Deputies: Pompano man’s double killing spree touched off by road rage, revenge

28-year-old Clarck Paul of Pompano Beach was arrested after police say he killed an innocent bystander while on his way to kill a man he thought had ratted him out.

28-year-old Clarck Paul of Pompano Beach was arrested after police say he killed an innocent bystander while on his way to kill a man he thought had ratted him out.

Currently, all of the public schools in Parkland — Heron Heights Elementary, Park Trails Elementary, Riverglades Elementary, Westglades Middle School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — have no extra seats for families who live outside the boundaries seeking reassignment into Parkland schools, a district official said.

Somerset Charter School, which has charter schools in North Lauderdale and Deerfield Beach, among others, previously has considered building a charter school at that same Parkland location but never moved forward with its application for city review.

In 2014, it submitted an application to create The Somerset Academy at Parkland Charter School for grades K-12.

The application called for a two-story building that would architecturally blend in with the neighboring upscale gated community of the Parkland Golf Country Club and have walkways to create a “pedestrian experience,” according to city records.

Tracy Clark, Broward School district spokeswoman, said Academica was approved last year for creating 1,248 seats for grades kindergarten through fifth grade, and another application for 900 seats for grades K-8.

But because the law does not require the school to give the School Board an address where it wants to open the school, it’s not known whether Parkland is the preferred city to house the school building.

A woman answering the phone at Academica headquarters in Miami referred calls to two company spokespersons who could not be reached for comment.

A representative for Debuys Property Investment Group could not be reached for comment. Debuys is known for selling land to homebuilder Lennar, which created Parkland’s residential community of MiraLago, which is still under construction.

The location of the possible charter school, 8401 University Drive, is now zoned for commercial use and may need the Parkland City Commission to sign off on an exception.

The School Board owns two parcels in Parkland — 25 acres at the northwest corner of Nob Hill Road and Hillsboro Boulevard, and 10 acres at the southwest corner of Trails End and University Drive — but there are no immediate plans for construction at those sites, school officials said.

lhuriash@sunsentinel.com or 954-572-2008

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-parkland-charter-school-20160901-story.html

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Consultant: Broward 911 system not as bad as people think

Broward’s 911 emergency dispatch system provides pretty good service. It’s the management and technology that needs fixing, says a consultant’s in-depth examination of Broward County‘s fledgling regional dispatch system.

“The system is performing better than what the perception was out there,” said Alphonso Jefferson, assistant county administrator. “There’s some opportunities for improvement.”

The county’s system has been dogged by complaints, mistakes and bad publicity in its two-year existence. But Missouri-based Fitch Associates said compared to other large, urban 911 systems, it’s not that bad.

When it comes to answering 911 calls, the report says, “the Broward system actually exhibits some of the best performance seen in large 911 centers across the nation.”

The report has been eagerly awaited by cities like Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale, who’ve threatened to pull out of the countywide system. In addition, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which runs the county system, had hoped it would justify their request for more money to hire more staff. But the report doesn’t do that.

The challenge going forward, the report says, “will be defining a clear set of expectations shared by all.”

Beleaguered 911 operators beg for better training, tools, treatment

Beleaguered 911 operators beg for better training, tools, treatment

The work of Broward County’s 911 operators is as serious as a heart attack, a missing child or gunfire at a school.

They hold lives in their hands. But by county officials’ measurements, their performance isn’t good enough.

The failures of Broward’s 29-city system, one of the largest 911 emergency…

The work of Broward County‘s 911 operators is as serious as a heart attack, a missing child or gunfire at a school.

They hold lives in their hands. But by county officials’ measurements, their performance isn’t good enough.

The failures of Broward’s 29-city system, one of the largest 911 emergency…

(Brittany Wallman and Linda Trischitta)

A second report will come in the next three months, said consultant Bruce Moeller, a former Sunrise fire chief and city manager who now works as a Fitch Associates consultant. It will spell out how solutions to the problems can be rolled out.

According to the report:

• The dispatch system needs simpler management. Right now, it’s operated by the sheriff’s office, but is under the county’s control. Participating city fire and police chiefs weigh in. And, the report noted, “low levels of trust exist” among the three factions, with most people blaming the county for it. “One of the major concerns shared by all stakeholders is the state of relations among the various parties,” the report says. The report also faults the county for getting too involved in operation of the system. Moeller said the system was put into place on an aggressive timeline, and the county filled the leadership “vacuum.” Now it’s time to give police and fire officials a more central role, he said.

• The system is doing one of the two things it was supposed to do: reducing the number of calls that had to be transferred to a different 911 center. With the vast majority of the 1.5 million callers a year using cell phones, at times the signal would ping off a tower in the wrong city in Broward’s jigsaw of 31 municipalities. Precious moments — 30 seconds on average — were wasted on transfers. That’s been greatly reduced but still occurs occasionally because Coral Springs and Plantation didn’t join. The second goal of the system, to allow the closest emergency response vehicle to head to a life-threatening emergency, hasn’t been implemented. Moeller’s next report will spell out how to move forward with it.

• Employees who responded to Fitch’s survey said they were providing a good level of service but are receiving inadequate training, aren’t prepared to handle a hurricane or mass shooting, are not helped by technology, don’t have easily understood or applied policies and procedures, don’t feel supported by upper management and don’t feel equipment complaints are handled appropriately. The BSO operation has “significant morale problems,” the report says.

• The system is hampered by aging technology. But that was no secret. County commissioners at a budget workshop last week informally agreed to commit $50.7 million in the 2016-17 budget for improvements to the system. Coming in 2017 is a new computer-aided dispatch system. And in 2018, the radio system used by dispatchers to communicate with police and fire personnel will be replaced.

• The system has enough staff to succeed, Moeller said. In some areas, it’s overstaffed. Starting in September, 911 calls that can’t be answered at one of the three call centers will roll over to another, possibly reducing the number of staff needed. Sheriff Scott Israel in May asked for a $6.2 million increase to $45.4 million, or 16 percent more, to operate the system. Most would be spent hiring 29 more employees, bringing the total to 476. The request was put on hold pending the Fitch report results. The report doesn’t support BSO’s request for more staff.

• Standards for answering phone calls and processing calls are higher than for similarly sized 911 centers, Fitch found, and aren’t necessarily worth fixating on or spending more money to achieve. The system already is nationally accredited. And the system is barely missing the goals. Quality of the service might be improved by the use of scripts for fire and law enforcement calls. Currently scripts used by 911 operators, providing instructions to callers, are only used for medical calls, Moeller said.

Jefferson said he doesn’t agree with all of the findings but said the county should be credited with hiring Fitch and cooperating to improve the system.

“We want a better system. That’s what we want,” Jefferson said. “We think we’re getting there, based on the numbers. We’re performing at a high level. But there’s some changes, and we’re open to those particular changes.”

The county paid $100,000 for the report.

Any member of the public who has a 911 dispatch complaint, or praise, can now lodge the comment online, Broward Commissioner Lois Wexler announced last week. Go to Broward.org/911. The report also can be viewed there.

FINDINGS

Fitch Associates findings after studying Broward County emergency 911 dispatch:

1. Broward Sheriff’s Office is an Accredited Center of Excellence as awarded by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

2. Low levels of trust exist among major stakeholders. Much of this is due to role definitions. Relationships need to be redefined in order for the system to move forward effectively.

3. County’s PSAP (Public Safety Answer Point) phone system and computer aided dispatch systems are not effectively linked to allow comprehensive evaluation of system performance.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-911-dispatch-report-20160826-story.html

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