Public Safety Day Dispatch

March 18, 2013

Public Safety Day - March 13, 2013






By Carolyn DiPaolo


The Class of 2013 set out in the bracing morning temperatures of March 13 in search of Palm Beach County's criminal justice and public safety - for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

We found it in the determination of Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who has a $3.5 million plan to help stop mass shootings and other gun violence by engaging the community to speak up when something is wrong. "We can't arrest our way out of this," Bradshaw said. He should know. The sheriff runs the fifth largest law enforcement agency in the nation and is responsible for 4,000 employees and 3,000 people in custody. The sheriff's annual budget is about $465 million. (The county's total spending each year is $3 billion.)

We found it in the confidence of newly elected State Attorney Dave Aronberg. He intends to wield his power to return the office, its $26 million budget and its 116 lawyers to the operation style of his role model, former State Attorney Barry Krischer. Aronberg is restoring veteran assistant state attorneys to their former posts and giving more discretion to the young lawyers on the front lines. "We won't use the public corruption unit to settle political scores," Aronberg said in an implied critique of his predecessor Michael McAuliffe.

We found it in the sure hands of Public Defender Carey Haughwout, who is serving her third four-year term.  She reminded us that unless everyone has a lawyer when liberty is at stake, there can be no equal justice.

We found it in the counsel of the Criminal Justice Commission, represented by Doug Duncan. The cross discipline commission can point to small but significant success, including persuading the sheriff to install a free phone line in the intake unit at the main detention center instead of insisting on collect calls. The direct result is more people connecting with relatives who can bond them out.

We found it in the drive of Judge Peter Blanc, who is finishing his term as chief judge, and who is using his clout to clean up the foreclosure mess before he moves on June 30. He has ordered court dates set for every one of the 10,000 Palm Beach County foreclosures that has languished for more than three years.

We found it in the face of 63-year-old Mai Le of Lake Worth, who had her first court appearance before Judge James Martz after she spent a long night in a holding cell. Le, one of about 150 people arrested in the last 24 hours in Palm Beach County, was clad in prison blue. Standing with her hands behind her back as instructed, she was charged with felony retail theft. Police said she took several pieces of men’s clothing from the Macy’s department store at the Boynton Beach Mall. Court records show she was released on her own recognizance.

We found it in the radically competent Division Chief Evan Bestland, who hacked a way for Palm Beach Fire Rescue vehicles to time green lights when they respond to an emergency.

We found it in the servant leadership of freshly minted Palm Beach Fire Rescue Chief Jeffrey Collins.

And we found it in the heartbreak of Leadership classmate Ryan Dobson, who encountered a young man he mentored among the juveniles incarcerated at the main detention center. Down the sky-blue hallways decorated with framed mottos on leadership, past the intake cells where the liberty is stripped away, up on the 12th floor, where another day starts at 4:30 in the morning.

THANK YOU to Day Co-Chairs: Michael Rodriguez (Class of 2009) and Jessica Cecere (Class of 2000), Committee Members: Jennifer Loyless (Class of 2003) and Teri Barbera (Class of 2012), Program Chair: Greta von Unruh (Class of 2009), Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach Fire Rescue, 2013 Class Day Hosts: Barbara Cipriano, CJ Janney, Preston Fields, Photographer: Andy Newitt, Social Media Coordinator: Wes Wiggins