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Robert Cuba Wins BCPBA’s 2018 Scholarship Essay Contest

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (BCPBA) presented awards to the winners of its annual college scholarship essay contest at its quarterly board of directors meeting held on July 19, 2018.

The organization awarded top scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year to five students of the organization’s law enforcement members. The essay topic for the applicants was, “The opioid crisis in America has reached epidemic proportions, and this disease doesn’t discriminate based on race, ethnic origin, age or socio-economic status. Families are being destroyed, and there doesn’t seem to be an answer to eradicating this problem. New solutions must be developed, and the law enforcement component must be part of the new equation. What do you think law enforcement’s role should be in striking a balance between upholding the law against the possession and use of illegal narcotics and the option of treatment, instead of punishment, for the offender?”

This year’s first place winner is Robert Cuba of Pembroke Pines. Robert received a $1,200 scholarship, which will be applied toward his education at the University of Florida. The first place scholarship award was sponsored by Matthew Oppedisano of the Wellington, Florida-based Law Enforcement Retirement Advisory Service.

The second place winner was Lexi O’Brien of Fort Lauderdale. Lexi received a $600 scholarship, donated by Richard Applefeld, and will be applied toward her education at the University of Central Florida.

The remaining winners each received scholarships in the amount $500 from the Broward County PBA.

The third place recipient was Brianna Costello of Jacksonville. Brianna is currently attending the University of North Florida, and will continue to do so through graduate school. Taylor Seldin of Boynton Beach earned the fourth place award, and will be attending the University of Central Florida. The fifth place winner was Lesley Cosme of Riverview. Lesley will be attending Penn State University.

The Broward County PBA Annual Scholarship Award was founded in 2003 as part of The HOPE Fund’s mission to assist the children of law enforcement members in their effort to attend college. To be eligible for the scholarship, participants must be the son or daughter of a Broward County PBA member in good standing and plan to be a part-time or full-time student at an accredited two- or four-year university. More information about the scholarship can be found at bcpba.org.

The Winning Essay

With the recent increase in media scrutiny, police officers have been facing mounting pressure to meet high standards in every aspect of their jobs. The opioid crisis creates a new challenge: should police officers arrest opioid addicts at the cost of breaking up families and potentially derailing lives?

According to Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, one of the core principles of policing is “To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary, of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.”

Peel’s statement provides strong philosophical support for the idea that the police should address opioid abuse by enforcing the law, the same way they are expected to address other crimes. Although ignoring the individual needs of opioid addicts seems objectionable at first, there are numerous reasons why Peel’s principle still holds true in this case.

Before they have a chance to be arrested, opioid addicts have many treatment options available to them. They can have their health insurance company pay for their rehab, seek out help from charitable or faith-based organizations, or stop abusing drugs on their own. But once their addiction becomes problematic enough for them to be confronted by police, whether it’s for a drug-related offense or for some other crime, the best course of action is for the officers to arrest the offender to prevent further harm.

Our society has come to expect a lot from police officers, but legally, it is the responsibility of the courts to decide the fates of the accused. They specialize in this task, so they are much better equipped to find a solution for each person who is arrested, whether that solution involves treatment, punishment, both, or neither.

Evidence linking substance abuse to crime provides a strong argument that police officers have a responsibility to separate drug addicts from their communities to promote public safety. A 1981 study found that opiate addicts in Baltimore were six times more likely to commit crimes while they were using opiates than while they were abstinent.

The police do not have the necessary resources to single-handedly solve the opioid crisis, but they don’t have to. The role of law enforcement should primarily be to enforce the law to protect the community. It is up to higher levels of government to create and modify laws, and the courts have the final say on the best way to interpret those laws for the benefit of society, but this only matters if the police do their part and bring them opioid addicts in need of assistance.

City of Hollywood Failing To Comply With State Law

The City of Hollywood’s non-compliance in properly funding its Police Officers’ Retirement System could cost the municipality, and its taxpayers, $5.5 million in State Premium tax money for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the Florida Division of Retirement and an actuarial report prepared for the City.

By failing to deposit $4.1 million into the Trust to cover the full amounts of the 13th check distributions in 2014 and 2015, Chapter 185 monies are being withheld, and additional tax revenues may be withheld as well.

“The City continues to kick the can with no real solutions,” Broward County PBA President Jeff Marano said.

The City of Hollywood has been notified that it is advantageous for it to deposit the $4.1 million into the Trust because the State Premium tax money in the amount of $5.5 million would be released in order to offset the City’s required contribution. The City of Hollywood was also notified that it is contributing to the Trust as if it is receiving the State Premium tax money, which has created a funding deficiency. If the situation is not corrected in a timely manner, additional funding pressures will be placed on the City as the plan’s sponsor, which could be up to an additional $50 million in lost revenue.

The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Ending Feb. 9

The halfway mark of the 2018 Legislative Session has arrived.

The major event of the week was the separate passages of the 2018-19 spending plans. As a state, Florida is now operating in the $80 billion range and, with these two proposals, we will be reaching and then eclipsing $87 Billion. Hard to believe.

The House and Senate have several areas of disagreement between the two spending plans. K-12 Education, Higher Education, Environmental, Health Care and Corrections are all areas where the plans diverge widely. The showdown over K-12 Education could prove to be quite a battle during the session’s second half. Monstrous battles over big spending items can suck the air out of the room. This leaves other issues as after thoughts. Our lobbying job will require constant contact with the legislative deciders in order to keep our issues “in play.”

Let’s review what remains “in play” at the halfway point of the session.

From a spending plan standpoint, PBA bargaining units are in at least one budget proposal … in some cases both proposals. That means pay raises are “in play” for the negotiations between the House and Senate.

The COLA legislation passed through a single Senate committee and it was workshopped in a House committee. That probably puts the issue “in play” to get funding for a special impact study which is a constitutional requirement for any benefit enhancement. If this COLA study occurs, we may have the opportunity to add in estimating the costs to reverse the age and years of service requirements for FRS employees hired after July 1, 2011. Getting an actuary to study the costs of both ideas in one study is “in play.”

The PTSD legislation has been heard in committees of both the House and the Senate thereby placing this issue in a position to pass by the end of session.

Both local pension bills are ready to be heard on the House floor. The process for local bills happens later in the session when the chambers follow a consent procedure. This procedure allows them to roll through multiple local bills in a short amount of time. The local pension bills seem to be on track to pass.

The electronic threats bill and the toll exemption for unmarked LEO vehicles are “in play” to pass this session, too. We had to amend the toll exemption bill onto another item (SB 1012) to get the issue moving in the Senate, but that is not uncommon.

Politics and legislating any issue can often be a struggle. Lobbying can be intense. It takes a strategy. PBA has put in a strategic plan for every issue that was mentioned up above and for several that are not being mentioned.

One key component of our strategy is to help elect supporters/allies of Law Enforcement, Correctional and Probation Officers and their families to important positions within our state. To facilitate building up our allies, PBA leaders met with multiple statewide candidates this week and outlined to them the hopes, dreams and struggles for officers and their families. We were impressed by each candidate.

There are 28 days left.

Thank you to everyone who lobbied with us this week:

Florida PBA President John Rivera, Senior Vice President Dick Brickman, Treasurer Ernie George, Vice President John “Kaz” Kazanjian, Vice President Mick McHale and Sergeant at Arms Jeff Marano

Broward County PBA Vice President Rod Shirvin

FHP Chapter President Bill Smith

Correctional Probation Officers Trusteeship Tony Highsmith

Florida PBA Update On Our Hurricane Irma Recovery Efforts

This is not designed to brag about our efforts to assist our membership during the recovery. Although, what we have seen from everyone is overwhelmingly impressive and a testament to the unity of our association.

As you know, the entire southern portion of the state was hammered by Hurricane Irma and the storm caused major flooding all the way up into the Northeast.

By Monday evening, September 11, the storm was in Georgia so much of the state was experiencing evening sunshine, but no power, severe damage and toxic flood waters. John Rivera and his team were already in the field performing clean up for members. Clearing driveways of down trees, cutting trees off of roofs and shuttling food and supplies.

By Tuesday, our entire team in south Florida was performing clean up, providing food and water, along with securing food for the officers working extensive shifts. A team moved in from the Tampa Bay area to assist the Southwest portion of the state.

By Wednesday, a team led by Brittney Welborn carried fuel, food and supplies to our correctional officers in the “iron triangle” who were without power and experiencing a rising flood of water. Jim Baiardi led the efforts in the South to fed every correctional institution.

On Thursday, the cavalry was in full motion. Gary Bradford, Abe Carmack and George Lofton had secured commitments from Publix and Walmart to bring in two truckloads of supplies for South Florida. Tampa PBA had already brought a shipment of food for the Fort Myers area and Matt Sellers was coordinating efforts to feed over 100 troopers in the field who had not been fed in nearly two days. Mick McHale had his contacts in New York hauling in a load from the North all the way down to “the Keys” but they were stuck in Jacksonville so Kim Kilpatrick of Coastal PBA got a team from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office together to secure the supplies and make the remainder of the trip.

Friday saw the first shipment from Tampa come into South Florida and the amount was so massive that the supplies were allowed to travel all the way down to mile marker 48. John and his team were feeding over 1,800 officers during the day. Jimmy and Brittney continued to feed correctional officer while power was being restored and the flood waters were receding.

On Saturday, the New York supplies arrived via Coastal Florida PBA. Followed by another shipment from Tampa Bay via George Lofton and Suncoast PBA on Monday.

In just a few days following a major disaster, the Florida PBA with all its chapters and charters and its partners like Publix, Walmart and our friends from New York answered the call.

I am honestly awed by how generous and compassionate everyone has been.

God Bless you,

Matt Puckett
Executive Director
Florida Police Benevolent Association

BCPBA IS ASKING FOR DONATIONS TO AID HOUSTON AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT

With the effects of Hurricane Harvey ravaging the city of Houston, several law enforcement officers have lost their homes and possessions, yet they are still out on the streets serving the Houston community without going home.

Through the website, AssistTheOfficer.com, donations are currently being accepted to help these men and women who are putting the needs of their community before their own.

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association is making a donation to this cause and is asking its members and supporters to aid these Houston area law enforcement officers who have suffered from the severe flooding as well.

Donations can be made online by clicking here or mailed to:

Assist the Officer
FBO Harvey Relief
1600 State Street
Houston, TX 77007

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Broward County Police
Benevolent Association
2650 West State Road 84
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

Telephone: (954) 584-7600
Fax: (954) 583-0405

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