Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony is out with his first TV ad of the 2020 election cycle, in which he attempts to tackle the ongoing issue of police brutality.
That topic has been at the forefront in recent weeks following George Floyd‘s death at the hands of several Minneapolis police officers. Protests have been ongoing nationwide, including in Broward County.
Tony begins the new ad by alluding to his Philadelphia upbringing.
“I’ve come a long way from the streets of a neighborhood called ‘The Badlands.’ But I beat the streets,” Tony says in the 30-second spot before discussing his tenure leading the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO).
“I’ve come this far, but I know we have further to go. I took on police brutality. I fired the bad cops.”
Tony’s campaign is highlighting two high-profile firings since he took over the position in Jan. 2019.
In July 2019, Tony fired Deputy Kevin Fanti after Fanti hit a handcuffed suspect in the head several times at a Fort Lauderdale jail.
In December, the BSO fired Deputy Christopher Krickovich after video showed Krickovich slamming a 15-year-old’s head into the ground. That teenager had been arrested after showing up to watch a fight in a McDonald’s parking lot.
Tony argues those instances show his intent to be tough on deputies accused of similar infractions going forward.
“Police brutality is unacceptable,” Tony continues in the ad. “Ending it starts with who’s in charge. It starts with me.”
Tony is one of 11 candidates competing in the Broward Sheriff’s contest and is one of six Democrats who qualified for the contest in left-leaning Broward County.
That field includes Tony’s predecessor, Scott Israel. Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Israel from his post in Jan. 2019, citing criticism of how the agency handled the shootings at Fort Lauderdale Airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. DeSantis selected Tony as Israel’s replacement.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association endorsed former Colonel Al Pollock in the race.
Tony’s decision to address his upbringing at the top of the new ad is an indirect response to some controversy the Sheriff has faced in recent weeks.
Tony defended his decision not to report his involvement in a fatal shooting in 1993 prior to joining BSO. Tony was cleared in juvenile court after shooting and killing 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez when Tony was just 14 years old. Because Tony was vindicated, that record was sealed.
“Sheriff Tony beat the odds to come from a poor, dangerous neighborhood to lead and reform one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country,” added Tony campaign manager Jerrick Grant.
“Now, Sheriff Tony has made it his greatest priority to make this office better (and) serve our community by taking on police brutality — firing bad cops, and instituting new de-escalation, racial equity and bias training, along with diversifying the command staff and providing better equipment. This spot highlights Sheriff Tony’s life story of perseverance and how he continues to reform the department from the failed leadership of his predecessor.”
The primary contest for the Sheriff’s race is Aug. 18.