As of right now, the budget of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office stands at more than three quarters of $1 billion dollars. Although value must be considered in the context of what services are being provided in return, there has been absolutely no oversight over how exactly this funding is being spent.
There are very real causes for concern. For example, what measures are being taken to maximize efficiency? Are rules for competitive bidding being followed? Are internal audits being performed? But, as is customary with the current sheriff, he has for years refused every request for transparency.
In his annual requests for funding, the current sheriff simply approaches the board of county commissioners; he provides them a seemingly arbitrary figure lacking even an abstract explanation of budgetary allocations; he offers astoundingly inadequate detail for any proper analysis by the commission for reasonable consideration; and his explanation to the commissioners can be paraphrased as simply, “Because that’s the amount we need.”
As our new sheriff, Alex Freeman’s first order of business will be to conduct a forensic examination of the budget. It is important to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being used in the most efficient manner possible. All PBSO programs will be analyzed in terms of efficacy and financing. Existing procurement processes will be reevaluated. New programs and initiatives will be put in place to ensure that departmental complacency does not result in waste.
Finally, Palm Beach County deserves and will receive full transparency with respect to PBSO funding and disbursements. No formal public record requests will be necessary. The website of the PBSO will include a new link under the Services and Resources tab, entitled “The PBSO Budget,” which will navigate to a spreadsheet of departmental allocations, procurements, vendors, dealers, etc., updated monthly, and downloadable in spreadsheet format. Full transparency.
The George Floyd Incident
In examining the situation involving George Floyd, it is important to remember that the issue is NOT whether or not Mr. Floyd deserved to be arrested; rather, the problem is that Mr. Floyd, although handcuffed and rendered incapacitated, was then administered, by an officer blatantly violating law enforcement policy and procedure, a brutal 8-minute execution, capturing on film for the world to witness just one graphic example of many similar incidents which otherwise go unnoticed and overlooked.
While the world came together to protest these atrocities and demand immediate change, it is unfortunate that there were some individuals who exploited these peaceful demonstrations as an opportunity to loot stores and damage property.
On Whether to “Defund the Police”
The demands to defund the police have been largely misunderstood. We must always preserve law and order. The concept of “defunding” refers more to budgetary allocations, and simply argues that allocating resources to community-led public safety efforts will enhance the overall effectiveness of law enforcement.
From his leadership experience in law enforcement, Ret. Major Alex Freeman believes that the most effective approach is more of a holistic approach – a strategic incorporation of these concepts. In his commitment to preserving the safety of all Palm Beach County residents, the PBSO will embrace alternative methods to crime prevention, such as working in collaboration with social workers, mental health providers and victim advocates, and will join forces with local community leaders in our common purpose to preserve the peace and public safety. This new partnership will be administered within the new framework of the PBSO, which will properly allocate funds to these new measures using its existing budget, which currently stands at more than three quarters of $1 billion dollars.
Tough on Crime
Law and order must be maintained. Every resident in Palm Beach County deserves to feel safe and be safe in their homes and neighborhood. In dedication to this, law enforcement must utilize every method of crime fighting at its disposal, including the use of alternative methods to preserving public safety.
Studies now demonstrate that aggressive policing for minor infractions and misdemeanors does not reduce serious crime, but instead inadvertently results in escalations to major crimes, seven of which representing the greatest threats to the safety of Palm Beach County residents: murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand theft auto.
These seven crimes, however, comprise only a fraction of all arrests, which demonstrates the enormous sum of resources devoted to low-level crimes and misdemeanors. This is not to say that not all laws should be enforced, but it does raise questions of proper resource allocation, and whether or not alternative methods to low-level crime prevention might be equally more effective and more cost-efficient, and even serve the further purpose of overall community enhancement, which would logically serve to reduce escalations to major crimes – a winning scenario for all parties.
As Sheriff, Alex Freeman will always remain tough of crime. But he will also implement methods to prevent crimes before they occur. For example, does it make sense to simply release back into our communities a person fresh out of incarceration, likely unemployed and now with a criminal record, in the hopes that he or she can still somehow find a job and not revert back to his or her criminal behavior?
During an inmate’s incarceration, he or she will be given the opportunity to learn a trade and educate him or herself. The PBSO will work with apprenticeship programs committed to giving these individuals an opportunity. In addition, the PBSO will host job fairs for recently released inmates. By offering these individuals the hope of a better life, and a clear path to accomplish this, we will reduce the likelihood that they will immediately resume unlawful behavior and remain a threat to public safety.
By emphasizing jail as a “correctional” facility and not simply a “confinement” facility, we will be able to substantially reduce the numbers of repeat offenders.
A report released by the Police Executive Research Forum based in Washington, D.C. concluded that there must be changes to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in order to restore trust. CBS detailed this 100-page report, which criticized the PBSO’s use of force and lack of proper internal investigation policies.
“We find most often times the deputies do violate department issued policies,” according to attorney and former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan, who is among other attorneys who represent Palm Beach County families who have suffered devastating loss resulting from the PBSO’s unjustified use of deadly force.
Under the current PBSO leadership, lives have been lost and millions of tax dollars spent in lawsuits and attorney fees. As Palm Beach County residents, we deserve proper leadership. As your new Sheriff, Alex Freeman will provide the county the law enforcement leadership we deserve.
A few key reform measures:
- Enhanced deputy training to address underlying ethnic and racial biases.
- The establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. This board will serve to receive and review every complaint, issue or concern raised by the public.
- Advocacy for an independent prosecutor in order to ensure fairness.
- The demilitarization of the police force.
- The re-institution of community-oriented policing.
- Mandatory use of body cameras.
- An “early warning system” to identify certain behavioral red flags indicating the likelihood of a deputy’s disposition to use excessive force.
- Prohibiting the use of chokeholds when restraining a suspect.
- A “duty to act” policy, which requires deputies to intervene when they witness colleagues violating policy or procedure.
These reforms will begin immediately upon Ret. Major Alex Freeman being sworn in as our next sheriff of Palm Beach County. This is his pledge to you.
Vote for Ret. Major Alex Freeman for your next Sheriff of Palm Beach County. Be a part of history – sign up to volunteer to be a part of the team, donate to the campaign today and make your vote count this August!
Voting beings August 3rd!
Three Ways to Vote:
- Vote By Mail
- Early Voting: August 3-16
- Election Day: August 18, 2020