Wednesday, January 14, 2015

PBSO and police service in Lake Worth

[This post from Sunday 1/11 has generated a considerable amount of traffic. Thank you, dear readers, for your support. For others who missed this post, another opportunity to understand how PBSO came to be our provider for police service in our little City of Lake Worth; please read the following:]

Lake Worth has many new residents, many who are unfamiliar when Lake Worth had its own police department. Here is a recollection of those terrible days when gangs ruled the city (Sun-Sentinel article from April 2013) about events in 2007, right here in Lake Worth, before PBSO:
Military-style assault weapons. A trail of bodies. Illegal drug trade. Street warfare. These were Palm Beach County's darkest days of gang violence, and it all returned in a courtroom drama Thursday.

It took six years for the major gangland murder trial to get underway, but the first two hours showcased what will be a fight for justice.

The prosecutor told jurors the case is about a 2007 massacre in a Lake Worth back yard, with AK-47-toting, masked hitmen carrying out revenge killings. She says there's DNA evidence, surveillance videos and a prison confession to implicate defendant Charlie Wyne, 28, as one of the shooters.
Lake Worth's crime rate improved under the service of Ric Bradshaw and the PBSO. I am gathering data that will demonstrate that and will share it when it is put together. But back in 2011, there were some who disagreed and wanted to reinstate the Lake Worth Police Department. Susan Stanton, the former Lake Worth city manager, went so far as to commission the Willdan Study to end the PBSO contract with the City. Here is what our current Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell had to say as reported by Willie Howard at the Palm Beach Post at the time: 
Commissioner Scott Maxwell, who voted against the study in January, said he will continue to support the sheriff's contract because the sheriff's District 14 office has helped reduce gangs and the crime rate in Lake Worth.

"The PBSO is the best thing that's happened to Lake Worth since sunshine," Maxwell said. "I'm not going to take the sunshine away."
In the Willdan report, there were clues that the city's effort at the time wasn't the smartest of things to do:

PBSO, and our PBSO Captain Silva, have had a stabilizing effect on our city and our ability to move forward. And the PBSO critics will grudgingly admit that. So in order to rid the City of the Sheriff they have taken a different approach: "we can't afford PBSO". For instance, the "other blog" is devoted to discrediting the PBSO and all their efforts, focusing on the cost while ignoring the benefits.
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” --Edmund Burke
PBSO has tremendous support within the City, while understanding this service comes with a cost. But with that cost comes a better quality of life, and really provides the foundation upon which the city's future success can occur. Negotiation regarding the cost of service in Lake Worth is possible. Remember, had we kept our own police force, its budget would be increasing over time, with the same or less level of service as before.

When you read another blog and read about "all the crime" in Lake Worth understand this is a concerted effort to undermine our PBSO, the deputies, and our District 14 PBSO Captain Silva. But you need to also consider this, tourists and visitors like warm weather, and so do criminals. This time of year there is always an uptick in criminal activity and this is not just a Lake Worth problem, this is a Florida problem and has always has been. There will always be the headline-grabbing incidents and tragedies and those should not be minimized. But perspective and a hard look at the facts must be done to understand the big picture as it relates to crime in general.