Hallandale police, firefighters may merge with Broward Sheriff’s Office
The Broward sheriff’s vast domain eventually might be sweeping up another enclave: Hallandale Beach.
At the request of union leaders, city commissioners agreed Wednesday to look into merging Hallandale’s police and fire departments with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Union leaders told the Sun Sentinel they’re worried about looming pension reform and talk of requiring employees to shoulder more of rising health care costs.
“If the only difference is wearing a different patch, it may be a smart move for the city to see if there’s any savings to merging with BSO,” said Sgt. Brian Hubbert, a police union representative. “It might be a win-win situation for everyone.”
Jim Bunce, fire union president, says the rank and file of the fire department supports merger talks.
“The city is indicating they don’t have the money to properly fund public safety,” Bunce said. “This would be a safer move than just slowly cutting, cutting, cutting.”
The union stance baffled some members of the commission.
“It took me by surprise,” Commissioner Keith London said of the query, which came during a budget workshop. “The employees have better health care coverage than 75 percent of the residents of Hallandale Beach.”
Commissioner Michele Lazarow said she felt compelled to approve the request.
“They’re upset about their pensions and health care costs,” she said. “I don’t want to be in a bad marriage. If people want to go, I’m going to support what they’re asking for.”
City Manager Roger Carlton says he has already contacted Sheriff Scott Israel.
“We will be working together over the next six months to analyze this and give all the information to the commission, the unions and the public,” Carlton said. “We don’t have a clue [how much money might be saved].”
Sheriff’s officials declined to comment Friday.
Mayor Joy Cooper cast the lone dissenting vote. She could not be reached for comment.
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