By Tao Woolfe

Although a Police Department merger with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was not on the Boynton Beach City Commission’s Aug. 2 agenda, more than 20 members of the audience spoke out against the idea as the topic dominated the meeting.
The residents’ slogan was “say no to PBSO,” for several reasons. They cited the sheriff’s refusal to use body- and dash-cams; refusal to carry Narcan to treat narcotics overdose victims; and what they said was PBSO’s generally poor record of dealing with minorities.
The comments were spurred by PBSO’s 11-page proposal to the city last month outlining what the office said would be “greatly enhanced security and depth of law enforcement.” The annual estimated cost would be $42 million.
Boynton Beach’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23 calls for a total of $38.3 million for police services.
Commissioners agreed the proposal did not offer enough detail about costs and services.
“Citizens of Boynton Beach, I hear you,” Commissioner Woodrow Hay said. He made a motion that the city immediately cease negotiations with PBSO. But the motion failed because the other commissioners said they needed more information — and community input —before making a decision.
Mayor Ty Penserga asked city staff to present a comparison of services, staff and budget offered by the Boynton Beach Police Department and the PBSO. No date was set for the presentation.
The possibility of bringing PBSO in to replace the Police Department was raised following months of anger — especially from the Black community — after a 13-year-old boy was killed during a high-speed police chase Dec. 26. The boy, Stanley Davis III, crashed his dirt bike at 85 mph on North Federal Highway with Officer Mark Sohn in pursuit.
Members of the youngster’s family, friends and supporters have crowded into City Commission meetings for months, asking for the city to fire those responsible.
Nevertheless, residents of all races reiterated Aug. 2 they do not want the PBSO to replace the city’s Police Department. Instead, the force should be winnowed of bad officers and more enlightened policies enacted, they said.
In a statement released on July 28, Penserga said no decision would be made about merging with PBSO until there is “significant community input, staff and commission reviews, and robust public discussion, including public hearings with citizen input.”
The 11-page proposal from Sheriff Ric Bradshaw was sent to Penserga on July 21. It came in response to an overture earlier this year from then City Manager Lori LaVerriere.
In early April, the City Commission had asked LaVerriere to look into potential benefits of contracting for police services with PBSO.
According to the response, Bradshaw believes the city would benefit mightily.
The proposal claims PBSO would focus on communication, customer service and community policing. Specifically, the sheriff said, the city would benefit from gaining the “experience of advanced, cutting-edge training, equipment, and technology.”
The proposal says the PBSO would absorb the Police Department personnel, although the sheriff would replace the police chief. PBSO would handle hiring and training, union negotiations, and liability resulting from the actions of law-enforcement personnel.
“In a contract for law-enforcement services, the city is the customer, and we provide the service,” the sheriff wrote. “Boynton Beach retains their sense of ownership by allowing the same employees to service the city while maintaining input in a productive forum with PBSO.”
The officers would operate out of the existing Police Department facility. Police vehicles would say Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and City of Boynton Beach in smaller letters. “No local control will be lost,” the proposal says.
Here’s what residents could expect, per the PBSO proposal:
• Sworn deputies providing 24/7 patrol, 365 days a year.
• Enforcement of state statutes and city ordinances.
• Community policing philosophy.
The proposal explains community policing as a way residents can connect with their community and its services.
PBSO says it uses crime analysis to develop strategies to reduce crime, improve neighborhood appearance and create a sense of pride and ownership among the residents, the sheriff wrote. Officers act as liaisons between the communities and outside agencies and service providers.
Healing the rift between the police and the community is especially important to Boynton Beach, officials have said.
Sohn was cleared of all charges in late March by a Florida Highway Patrol investigation. FHP concluded Davis was unlawfully fleeing an attempted traffic stop and going 85 mph in a 35-mph zone.
The Boytnon Beach Police Department is still conducting its own investigation.

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

Pippi posted an event
11 hours ago
Pippi posted an event
13 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
yesterday
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
yesterday
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Aug 11
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Aug 11
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in MANALAPAN
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in MANALAPAN
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in LANTANA
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in MANALAPAN
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in HIGHLAND BEACH
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Aug 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Aug 3
More…