By AJ CRoss
I have just finished reviewing the most recent Brady List. This is the Broward County State Attorney’s list of active cases against sworn law enforcement officers. According to the current review, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) had the most active cases with deputies, sergeants, and a few Detectives making the list. Law enforcement agencies including Wilton Manors, Seminole Police, and Lauderhill were on the list as well. Fort Lauderdale came in second. The ranking is solely based on the large size of both the BSO and FLPD.
The list of charges is shocking, and includes drug dealing, human trafficking, falsifying records, stalking, kidnapping, sexual assault, attempted murder, insurance fraud, grand theft, making false statements to the FBI, and others.
The report reads like a laundry list of major crimes perpetrated by those sworn to protect civilians and enforce the law. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley have strong positions regarding police misconduct and accountability. You may recall that Chief Adderley himself was investigated for possible misconduct regarding the Scott Rothstein case. Adderly cooperated fully with the investigation and insisted upon an open-airing of all his actions and decisions. Adderly’s accountability showed a top cop putting his money where his mouth. It had a positive effect on department morale, and thankfully, he was cleared of any wrong doing.
The question remains, though, that with so many officers simply not living up to their sworn duty, and with an increase in reports of corruption by law enforcement officers, who watches the watchers? The Civilian Police Boards have no real power, possessing the authority to merely review whatever information is provided to them by police internal investigations. There is no true civilian watchdog of law enforcement.
Critics say that the Brady List is shorter than it should be, with close to 200 active cases unreported. They say this is because the state attorney’s office does not want to give an accurate picture of how many police officers are actually being investigated. Is this for fear that the information would cause panic, unrest, or lack of confidence in local law enforcement? Maybe. But even if that was the case, the list is certainly bad enough.
I know many cops personally, and I respect what they do and who they are as individuals. I feel great anger on their behalf whenever a bad cop thinks that he or she is somehow above the law. I think it is high-time to create an External Affairs Department, with the authority to investigate misconduct and crimes by law enforcement: a separate entity not controlled by the State Attorney or an agency they are investigating, totally impartial and reporting directly to the City Manager or Commission. Even were such a board not to oversee arrests or prosecution, a separate apparatus would be a mark of both fairness and transparency.
I do not know if this is a permanent solution, but as the list criminals with badges and guns grows, something cries for justice. It is unfair to honest cops and their image, and a blow to public trust. To those good cops on the streets, thank you for your service, integrity and commitment to public service.