Broward County PBA Names Michael Braverman Senior General Counsel; Revamps Legal Department

The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, the voice of law enforcement in Broward County, announced today the naming of Michael Braverman, P.A. as the organization’s Senior General Counsel.

In his new role, Braverman will lead an expanded legal department which now incorporates PBA-affiliated attorneys from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties as well.

Braverman began his career with the Dade County PBA from 1985-95, serving as a law clerk, staff attorney and General Counsel. He started his own firm in 1995, but remained a PBA-affiliated attorney, representing law enforcement officers throughout the state of Florida as a special labor counsel. Braverman received his undergraduate degree in criminology in 1984 from Florida State University, where he graduated cum laude, and his J.D. in 1987 from the Saint Thomas University School of Law in Miami. He was admitted to the Florida Bar Association in 1988.

“We are proud to bring our members the most powerful legal department in PBA history,” Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin said. “We have joined forces with the Dade and Palm Beach County legal teams to combine with our already highly respected attorneys, who are well established in Broward County.”

The Florida Capitol Report For The Week Ending January 11

Florida Capitol Report

An opening week of celebration to welcome in the new leaders of Florida’s state government was highlighted by the Inauguration of Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. The mood was festive, yet business like, giving us multiple opportunities to discuss our legislative priorities with Legislators and new members of the Florida Cabinet. We are eager to get going and excited for what the future holds.

Florida Police Benevolent Association’s Board of Directors set several priorities for the upcoming session. Most of the items are from previous years:

  • Our state employees’ bargaining units request for yearly pay raises
  • Restoring the Florida Retirement Systems’ (FRS) Cost of Living Benefit (COLA)
  • Reverting to the 25 years and out years of service for FRS Special Risk Class members hired after July 1, 2011
  • Defending Municipal Police pensions

This session, the board added the following items:

  • Updating Florida law to allow probable cause for an arrest after a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) match (or hit)
  • Upgrading texting while driving to a primary offense
  • Criminal justice reform with an emphasis on the Florida Department of Corrections

The agenda is not complete since there are several other areas in terms pay, retirement and public policy that we will be involved with before the session ends on May 3, 2019.

Our lobbying team had contact with legislative budget leaders to begin discussions on across the board pay raises and career development plans for our state employee bargaining units. The budget outlook has slightly improved since the last Capitol Report correspondence which is encouraging. The next step will be negotiations with the Department of Management Services (DMS) over each sides wage proposal. The proposals will be sent to the Legislature for final determination. The process will take place over the entirety of interim committee weeks and the full legislative session.

Our team also discussed a Florida Retirement System study request with new leaders in the Legislature. We have been talking to members of the leadership since the early summer of last year. A new actuarial impact study will have to be complete before the Legislature can enhance any of the FRS benefits. We are requesting several options to examine restoration of the COLA, restoring years of service and age. Our sponsors for the Legislation are Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Chuck Clemons.

We also discussed updating Florida law to allow a CODIS hit to grant probable cause for an arrest instead of probable cause to take a DNA sample from the match in the CODIS. The law was created back when DNA science was in its infancy. Today, DNA sample are as accurate as a latent fingerprint. Our position is as follows – waiting for the results of a DNA match following a CODIS hit unfairly places the public in danger. Not to mention, the delay gives a suspect time to flee.

All in all, this week was successful.

Our lobbying team and a great many of PBA elected officials were able to attend the Inaugural events while also advancing our issues for the upcoming session.

Broward County Police Benevolent Association Announces The Transition To Its New Executive Board

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The Broward County Police Benevolent Association, the voice of law enforcement in Broward County, announces the transition to its new Executive Board following the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, January 3, during the organization’s January Board of Directors’ meeting.

Rod Skirvin takes over as President after serving the previous six years as the organization’s Vice President. Skirvin, a 25-year member of the Broward County PBA, was a detective with the Coconut Creek Police Department upon his retirement from that agency in January of 2018.

Thomas Tiberio moves into the role of Vice President after serving as the organization’s Treasurer since June of 2016. Tiberio is a Sergeant with the Miramar Police Department, and has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 1996.

Kevin Loughran begins his first, three-year term as Treasurer. Loughran is a road patrol officer with the Wilton Manors Police Department, and has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 2014.

Meghan Anderson continues in her position as the organization’s Secretary, after being elected to her second, three-year term. Anderson is a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy and is currently assigned to the Parkland criminal investigations unit. She has been a member of the Broward County PBA since 2002.

Broward County PBA Members Should Oppose Amendment 3; Would Make Our Schools Less Safe

As the president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, we are committed to protecting the rights of our men and women in blue and ensuring that our communities are safe. When Floridians vote in this November’s general election, they should vote NO on Amendment 3—which would risk school security funding and make it harder to keep our classrooms as safe as they ought to be.

The leading proponents of Amendment 3 are running countless ads on TV and social media discussing how this law would purportedly empower voters by giving them the reins for any gambling expansion in the state.

What they don’t want voters to know is that Amendment 3 would jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in current education funding that goes directly towards the Education Enhancement Trust Fund (EEFT). Additionally, Florida would walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars in future education funding going directly towards the EEFT. That fund has a Safe Schools Allocation and a Mental Health Assistance Allocation. In translation, that money helps keep our kids, teachers and classrooms safe.

This funding also pays for School Resource Officers (SROs) and goes directly towards expanding school-based mental health care in our education system, which helps to minimize violent incidents at schools—many of which stem from a lack of care. Research has shown that almost 60% of the mass shootings that have taken place in our country have been carried out by people with a diagnosed or demonstrable mental disorder.

It should be stated that the Broward County PBA’s opposition to Amendment 3 does not mean that we support gambling. Local communities should be empowered to make those decisions that reflect the desires of their constituents. However, a blanket ban like Amendment 3 that risks hundreds of millions of dollars of funding that goes towards our education system and keeping our students safe, is not worth considering.

We should be doing everything in our power to ensure that our schools have ample resources for more SROs. This last session, the governor signed into law a sweeping bill that, in part, helps to protect our schools from the type of attack we saw at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Here in Broward County, fulfilling the requirement to fund at least one SRO at every school has stretched the county budget thin. Why would we pass an amendment into our state’s Constitution that might make it harder for local governments to properly fund education and keep our schools safe? The fact is that this amendment, written by large corporate interests for their benefit only, would make our schools less safe.

That is why on November 6, we hope that voters will make the right choice and vote NO on Amendment 3—for the safety of our schools and our children.

Sincerely,

Jeff Marano
President, Broward County PBA

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.