Thursday, June 28, 2018

Crime in the City of Lake Worth, about PBSO, and a short story about a man named Jeff Clemens.

Later this year, on August 26th, will mark ten years since the agreement was signed to merge the former Lake Worth PD with PBSO:

“[A]ll the [crime data] arrows are down including every single property crime. So that’s a good thing. So overall I would be happy to have double-digit decreases. We play a role in that but there’s much more to it as you [Lake Worth City Commission] all know. The City plays a huge role, the economy, so many other factors but it’s encouraging to see [crime decrease]. So I wanted to make sure you are aware.”
Quote. PBSO Cpt. Todd Baer at “Quarterly Presentation” to the City Commission on Jan. 16th, 2018.

For more about this PBSO update and why the “City of Lake Worth and District 14 PBSO needs your help to get the facts out” click on this link.

So, you’re wondering:

“When and what happened that Lake Worth’s former police department was merged with PBSO?”

For the answer to that, here is the first image about crime in 2007. Two more follow below.

The numbers you’ll see below will surprise or maybe even disturb some of you. But possibly you’ll come to better understand, in context, how much has been accomplished since August 2008.

Below are statistics published in 2007 of crime rates in the City of Lake Worth during the previous year. Remember, this is before PBSO took over policing the City. It’s alarming to think about what many of us lived through ‘back in the day’. However, after the merge between PBSO and LWPD some thought a year or so later it might be a good idea to go back to our having our own police department. Read more about that below as well. Then you decide if that would have been a good idea.

But imagine for a moment we had gone back to having our own PD because, in some people’s minds, it was ‘charming’ and ‘quaint’ as well? We would then be free to make even more cuts in public safety regardless of the impact of crime on our resident and visitor population.

Crime numbers from 2007:

The high crime rate was one of the primary reasons our property values plunged so deeply during the Great Recession.

More crime numbers from 2007:

Note the homicide clearance rate.
Not very ‘charming’ is it?

Back in 2007 when crime was at its worst here in the City of Lake Worth reporter Patrick Parrish at The Lake Worth Herald wrote, “According to Mayor Jeff Clemens, the city is at least 10 officers short of the same time in 1997, a significant number when translated into street presence.”

Another former commissioner, JoAnn Golden, quoted in the same 2007 article said, “I can understand [Commissioner Cara] Jennings’ concern on civil rights, but we have allowed gangs to get ahead of us.”

Then in August 2008 then-Mayor Clemens had to make one of the hardest political decisions ever in his political career, to disband the Lake Worth PD and have PBSO take over law enforcement in this City.

On August 26th, 2008, then-Mayor Clemens

Even after the agreement was signed some still maintained we were better off having our own PD. That is until the public had their chance to speak.  

Some long-time residents of this City will remember this gem, the former city manager (Susan Stanton) and a former commissioner (Suzanne Mulvehill) in full retreat after trying to end the PBSO contract in May 2011:

At the 6:15 mark in this video, Yours Truly asks Stanton two questions, both of which she avoided answering:

As to the future, can the City of Lake Worth ever get it’s own police department back? It’s possible and maybe a future City Commission will consider that possibility. But before that happens a few more things will have to change in this City. And we’ll have to be certain that the same people who got us into such a terrible mess ten years ago can never, ever reclaim control of this City ever again.

For example:

So. Do you think PBSO deputies are “Worthless”?