Sheriff Candidates Face Off at Wellington Chamber Lunch
Palm Beach County Sheriff candidates Ric Bradshaw, Joe Talley and Cleamond Walker faced off in a relatively cordial exchange at the forum hosted by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce today at the Wanderer’s Club.
Going first, challenger Joe Talley stated that “the Department needs a new heart”. Coming from a 22 year career with the Baltimore County Police, an agency about the size of Law Enforcement in PBSO, Joe described the environment there as open and honest, with “many opportunities on a level playing field to be assigned or promoted without bias” or anything to do with the political arena. Not the case at PBSO he concluded from his 5 years in the PBSO reserves.
Mr. Talley continued, leveling several charges against the leadership of Sheriff Bradshaw, including lack of transparency in the budget, opposition to Inspector General oversight, lack of national accreditation which he says is unattainable with the current personnel and other issues, a case clearance rate well below the national average, lack of attention to our position as number 3 in human trafficking in the country, and an image of bullying and intimidation that has caused a division between PBSO deputies and the communities they serve.
Sheriff Bradshaw in his remarks, was dismissive of Talley’s criticism, calling it the “politics of personal destruction”. Castigating those “Chicken Littles” who say the sky is falling he assured us: “Folks, the sky ain’t falling”. Deflecting the internal personnel issues, he pointed to PBA President John Kazanjian, sitting at the Bradshaw table with other supporters including State Representative Joe Abruzzo, asking “Why would the PBA endorse me if there was a problem with employees in the agency?” and then went on to list the FOP and IAFF as other unions who have endorsed him. On national accreditation he said it was redundant and expensive, so why do it? On the bullying and intimidation, and other criticisms he gave no answer.
The Sheriff then went on to describe accomplishments and recognition received in the areas of gangs, pill mills, homeland security, and childhood sexual predators. It is a simple decision he said, between his proven leadership and one who has not yet held such a post.
Cleamond Walker, late for the meeting, started his remarks after a short delay. He described his first visit to Palm Beach County, how he has loved it for 30 years, and how he wants to give back by serving as Sheriff. He outlined his priorities which included going after the top drug dealers, cutting the budget by trimming the executive ranks, and bringing spending into line with the fiscal realities of the real estate bust.
In a calm and professional manner, Joe Talley leveled a long list of serious criticism against the current regime. With less than a month to go before the election, we are hopeful that the Sheriff will attempt to set the record straight and address the serious issues raised straight on – perhaps in one of the few remaining public forums.