Jones Town-born former police chief running for sheriff of Broward County, Florida
By DESMOND ALLEN
Andrew Smalling, the trailblazing Jones Town, Jamaica-born former police chief of Lauderhill, Florida — nicknamed Jamaica Hill after its dominant population — has thrown his hat in the ring to become sheriff of Broward County in 2020.
Smalling was installed in September 2011 as only the second black police chief of Lauderhill City, transferring from Lauderdale Lakes where he had smashed city tradition to become the first black police chief.
He officially launched his candidacy for Broward County Sheriff on April 23 at the City of Lauderdale Lakes Library/Educational and Cultural Center, saying he was unhappy with the way things were going under the current sheriff.
Smalling, who must first win the Democratic primary on August 25, 2020, said despite retiring as Lauderhill’s police chief in 2015, he made the calculated decision to seek the higher office of county sheriff to provide a service that, in his estimation, was not being provided to Broward residents.
“Although I was no longer active in law enforcement I, nonetheless, remained a very keen observer of the operations of the Broward Sheriff Office. I just wasn’t pleased with the past leadership, and also with the current leadership,” he was quoted in press reports as saying.
“I don’t think the leadership is doing its best for the residents. I know I can make improvements — that’s why I am running,” said Smalling, who is married to Jamaican Pauline Case, herself a Broward police officer.
On one of his regular visits to Jamaica, Smalling was special guest of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Strategic Command Course graduation ceremony at Twickenham Park, St Catherine where he spoke on the need for cops to be transformational figures and agents of change.
Smalling has also worked with the Jamaican police on introducing his school resources programme here, and has maintained an active interest in the progress of the force over the years.
The veteran cop left Jamaica at age eight, with little or no memory of the sprawling slums of troubled inner-city Jones Town, Kingston, where he was born 60 years ago. But he is surrounded by Jamaicans in this teeming city of 70,000 people where he had to deal with the best and the worst of them. More importantly, he seemed to have gotten the better of the situation.
In the first two years, after he swore on his 95-year-old grandmother’s Bible to protect the city of Lauderhill, he was able to boast of an impressive 14 per cent drop in crime, noticeably in violent offences like murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault involving use of weapons.
Smalling, a well-read policeman who also lectures once a week in criminal justice at Broward College in Florida, has had a lifetime in law enforcement. In 1986, after graduating from college, he joined the United States Marine Corps and began his decade-long career as a military intelligence officer.
While in the Marine Corps, Smalling participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and received the National Defense Service Medal. He served with Joint Task Force 4 in Key West, Florida, as a reserve officer from 1991 to 1996. In 1996 he received an honourable discharge from the Marine Corps after attaining the rank of major.
In 1991, he joined the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) as a deputy sheriff and served for 20 years. While with BSO, he rose to the rank of district chief for the City of Lauderdale Lakes, retiring in 2011 as the acting major supervising the north area.
During his tenure at BSO, Smalling earned a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Lynn University. Shortly after leaving BSO, he was appointed chief of police in the City of Lauderhill and served from 2011 until 2015.
As chief of police, he established a community policing philosophy through a multifaceted approach which included utilising officers on bicycle and foot patrols, thus balancing community liaison sofficers with assertive law enforcement.
He created a Strategic Enforcement Team to focus on crime involving illicit drugs and violent gangs, resulting in a significant multi-year reduction in drug-related and violent crimes in the city.
“I have what it takes to make a positive difference in public safety in this county, and I will work tirelessly towards a justice system that works for everyone,” said Smalling, who served as a board member of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association.
He is a graduate of the 238th session of the FBI National Academy, as well as a graduate of the Broward sheriff’s office Center for Advanced Criminal Justice Studies Executive Leadership Programme.
Smalling’s campaign is stressing improved public safety in Broward County by being sensitive to community needs and fostering a more cohesive relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves.
He also pledges to develop and improve the system and processes that will facilitate greater school safety for the children of Broward County; focus on the elimination of secondary victimisation; positively impact the jail population and reduce recidivism; and provide for greater transparency and accountability of taxpayer dollars.