Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw doesn’t like “open carry” and believes body cameras are only part of preventing police shootings.
Speaking to an Economic Forum of Palm Beach County audience Tuesday at the Kravis Center, Bradshaw also repeated that he’s running for reelection and defended the way the Sheriff’s Office investigates deputy-involved shootings, which came under scrutiny in a joint Palm Beach Post-News Channel 5 series.
“There’s not a deputy that gets up in the morning and says, ‘Yeah, I’d like to get involved in a shooting today,’” Bradshaw said. “It’s absolute hell. They have three investigations.”
Bradshaw said his department is one of just a few that have someone from the local prosecutor’s office come to the shooting scene.
“That truly is an independent investigation,” Bradshaw said. “We hear all that clutter about, ‘we need somebody from the outside.’ There is. He’s already there.”
Bradshaw also said that while he’s big Second Amendment supporter, pending legislation in Florida would let people visibly display guns who perhaps aren’t qualified to do so. A person whose gun is visible is the first one a criminal will shoot, he said.
The sheriff refused to comment specifically on the death of Corey Jones, who was armed when he was shot by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer, who has since been fired. But Bradshaw said many confrontations become deadly because of poor training, and that an officer sometimes makes the mistake of necessarily putting himself or herself in a situation that requires deadly force.
“There’s a difference between lawful and awful,” he said. “Cameras are going to take a picture of another bad incident if you don’t have three things: good training, good policies and good supervision.”
He said body cameras for officers are great, but he doesn’t believe they prevent incidents. He said they don’t get into the officer’s head as to whether he feared for his life. And getting one for each of his 1,600 deputies would cost about $19 million, money he’d rather spend on more deputies.
While his is an independent agency, his budget comes from the county. He repeated his budget stump speech that he hasn’t increased his force since 2006, although his department’s budget has continued to grow since then while other county departments have seen significant cuts.
With the economy and development on the rebound, he said he’s about 100 deputies short of what he’d like. He said his ratio of deputies per 1,000 calls has dropped from 2.6 to 1.3, compared with a national average of 2.0.
It’s part of economics going hand-in-hand with crime, he told the Economics Forum crowd. People take their homes and businesses out of neighborhoods because of violent crime. There are gangs who aren’t so much about colors as they are about robbery and identity theft.