Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office citizen review board an unlik - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office citizen review board an unlikely option

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The scene of a deadly shooting involving a Palm Beach County deputy hasn’t played out in more than 9 months.

“It’s been quiet for a while, but it just takes one little thing to start everything all over again,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor.

As a result, she wants citizens to have a say when a deputy pulls the trigger.

“It would allow a fresh set of ideas to look at some of the things that has caused some issues.”

But a citizen review board would lack any real power and authority according to county staff who recently researched the issue.    

The issue came up after a joint investigation with the Palm Beach Post identified problems with how the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office investigates itself.  In an unprecedented investigation we found, over the past 15 years, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies have disproportionately shot at unarmed black men.  Nearly all shootings involving a deputy since 2000 were ruled justified.

The citizen review board would not be allowed to conduct an investigation while there is an ongoing PBSO investigation on the same event.

“Legally we would not be able to make the sheriff give us information,” said Taylor who proposed the citizen review board as a way to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement.

Publicly, the sheriff hasn't supported the idea of a citizen review board.

“They're expensive.  The experts will tell you they don't have the expertise and quite frankly they don't have the authority,” said Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in the past.

Instead, he's proposed area-specific advisory boards.

“We want to have an advisory board of community leaders in Belle Glade, a board of community leaders in north county, south county and the central part,” he said back in May.

“We're one county.  If there are issues it affects all of us,” said Taylor who doesn’t agree with area-specific boards.

Where it goes from here is up for discussion, something Commissioner Taylor believes can't wait.

“I just think we still need to make sure there is the trust with the citizens and law enforcement, that we work together whenever possible,” she said.

Palm Beach County Commissioners will decide whether to explore other options during its regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday morning.

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