Pembroke Park swears in 11 police officers, department set to launch this week

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Eleven new police officers were sworn in at a special Pembroke Park Town Commission meeting Wednesday night.

Despite concernthe mayor and police chief say the new officers will be ready to hit the road on Friday.

“At midnight on Friday night, Pembroke Park Police Department will officially launch. BSO will stay on until 6 am to help to transition from one department to another,” said Pembroke Park Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office has been providing law enforcement services to Pembroke Park for 42 years.

The latest contract expires Friday, Sept. 30.

Pembroke Park has been in the process of launching its own department, but it wasn’t expected to be ready until February.

The sheriff’s office offered the town a one year, $3.4 million dollar extension that would cover the gap, but the mayor adamantly refused.

Jacobs has been working on starting his own department since 2019, claiming the town has been overcharged for services by the sheriff’s office for years.

It would have been foolish of us to continue on with the BSO contract,” Jacobs said. “BSO has served this community for 42 years. They do not patrol this community as we pay them three and a half million and we never see them here in town.”

Wednesday night, Town Manager JC Jimenez recommended Pembroke Park renew BSO’s contract, saying the department wasn’t ready. Vice Mayor Reynold Dieuveille agreed.

“In my opinion we are not ready to go,” said Dieuville. “We have a set date and now we are trying to start four months before. We are not ready. I’m not rushing anything.”

Said Jimenez: “my recommendation is to sign that contract with BSO. I don’t think it would be careful to rush the department. There are a lot of things that need to be done and I don’t want to set them up to fail either. There is a lot of work that has gone into it.”

But Pembroke Park Police Chief David Howard told the mayor and commissioners the department would be ready.

Howard was originally hoping adjacent departments would provide temporary service to the town while he was getting his department ready. They declined.

Pembroke Park only received police radios Tuesday. A grant for bullet proof vests was approved Wednesday night.

The town had already purchased patrol cars.

While Broward County Regional Dispatch will be able to communicate with Pembroke Park officers, they will not be able to connect to the computer aided dispatch system or CAD system for months.

That means when an officer pulls some over, they won’t be able to check for outstanding warrants or issues.

The mayor says he’s not concerned.

“When I became a CAD officer did not exist, everything was done over the radios,” said Jacobs. “This is regular policing. When we pull someone over, we run their license plate. At that time the dispatcher will run the owner of that vehicle and when we make contact with the owner of that vehicle we will also run their ID over the radios. This is how policing used to be done before technology, and it is not a problem. We will continue with it today.”

According to Pembroke Park’s budget, there will be a 23 person department that will include a chief, major, captain, lieutenant, three sergeants, two detectives, 12 officers, a records and evidence clerk and an administrative assistant.

The department will have three officers and a sergeant on the road on a shift.

Of the eleven officers who were sworn in Wednesday, four had already been hired and were doing administrative work. Others will be hired in the coming weeks.

“With all the officers sworn today, we have 400 years of experience,” said Jacobs. “These are not officers out of the academy. These are officers with several years’ experience.”

Said Vice Mayor Dieuville: “I still disagree. I think we are jeopardizing public safety. For my own peace of mind, I think we should stick with BSO for at least six months.”

Howard said uniforms are still on order.

“They will be wearing what BSO has for a week or two until their uniforms come in,” he said.

Jacobs said a celebration is set for Friday night at 11:30 at town hall.

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