By Dan Moffett
South Palm Beach residents can expect to see some of their former police officers patrolling the town again as deputies by mid-November after they completed five weeks of training with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Maj. Chris Keane, supervisor of the sheriff’s South Regional Bureau, said the town’s seven officers went through two weeks of classroom work and three weeks of field training to make the transition into the ranks of sheriff’s deputies.
“The classroom training primarily consists of our general orders, first aid and the kind of things that provide a foundation for what the Sheriff’s Office is all about,” Keane told the Town Council during its Oct. 8 meeting. “Then they get to go out and do some practical application on the street and spend some time learning our neighboring district.”
Keane, a 25-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, oversees about 365 deputies in the southern bureau, a sprawling South County district that includes Lake Worth Beach, western Boynton Beach, western Delray Beach and western Boca Raton.
While the officers were attending PBSO school in October, a group of veteran deputies patrolled South Palm Beach. Keane said these deputies worked alongside the town’s police in September to become oriented with the five-eighths-mile-long community of roughly 1,400 people — “a chance to get our existing deputies to start to know the nuances and uniqueness of the town of South Palm Beach.”
Said Keane, “We didn’t just throw people in here without having some understanding of the town.”
The deputies will use the police station in Town Hall as an administrative headquarters. PBSO has upgraded the computer system there and improved the building’s small kitchen.
Former South Palm Police Chief Mark Garrison is expected to become one of two sergeants assigned to oversee the town. The positions and assignments of the six other officers are uncertain and up to PBSO.
When Sheriff Ric Bradshaw came to the town for the officers’ swearing-in ceremony on Oct. 1, he made it clear that they would work for and answer to him, not any local constituency.
In June, the council voted to approve a 10-year contract with PBSO for its law enforcement services. The terms call for the town paying $1.05 million the first year, with 2% increases the following two years. Council members say the agreement could save the town about $1 million over the 10 years.
In other business:
• The council decided, after experimenting with different starting times during the summer, to return to scheduling town meetings for 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.