The 10-week free program runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on consecutive Mondays, Feb. 6 to April 17.
Lectures are provided by local, state and federal law enforcement professionals. Participants will learn about local law enforcement including special operations at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They will tour the main jail, a courthouse, and the Medical Examiner’s Office. For the first month, classes will be held at West Palm Beach Police headquarters at 600 Banyan Street in West Palm Beach.
Law enforcement agencies in Palm Beach County will have a 1-stop source for what their counterparts in the county are doing about police body cameras, courtesy of the county’s Criminal Justice Commission.
The commission has assembled a list of each agency and whether and how it employs body camera technology.
It also was in consensus to create a committee to study the issue and its local aspects.
Commission Executive Director Kristina Henson distributed her “matrix” at the panel’s regular meeting Monday morning and said that as she reaches out to more agencies she plans to expand the list and also show details.
Among the items the commission hopes to gather: If a department employs cameras, what does it pay for the camera and how much for data storage? And how many staff did the agency have to add to manage the records and do redactions when they get public records requests for a video clip?
This summer, for the first time, the Glades will host a “citizens’ criminal justice academy.”
The academy will meet from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on consecutive Thursdays, June 9, 16, 23, and 30, at the Belle Glade Library/Civic Center, at 725 N.W. 4th St., in Belle Glade.
Sponsors are the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and Palm Beach County Office of Community Revitalization.
The academy is designed to teach lay people about specific aspects of the criminal justice system and how decisions are made. Participants will see demonstrations, meet with decision makers involved with criminal justice, and tour the jail.
Participants must be at least 16 and can earn up to 12 community service hours.
Elected constitutional officers such as Clerk Sharon Bock and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw aren’t subject to the scrutiny of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics in their roles as members of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, because they don’t come under the jurisdiction of the ethics panel at all, its executive director says.
Bradshaw also has said attending opens his constitutionally independent office to the scrutiny of the county Inspector General and the ethics commission.
Bradshaw and Bock are among 11 members of the panel who hold county or state posts, plus four federal representatives, who are not subject at all to the ethics commission, executive director Mark Bannon wrote justice commission’s new executive director Kristina Henson.
of which is expected to be approved without discussion in the panel’s “consent agenda.”
“Those persons who are required by ordinance to be a member of an advisory board of commission,” Bannon wrote, “do not meet the Code’s definition of an official” for the ethic’s commission’s purposes. He said that’s because they’re not appointed by the county commission.
Bannon said two members of law enforcement associations plus the head of the county’s Legislative Delegation might already be subject to the ethics panel by virtue of their regular jobs.
A Palm Beach Post analysis published Dec. 7 found that six members of the Criminal Justice Commission, including County Clerk Sharon Bock and Sheriff Rick Bradshaw, have missed about 87 percent of the meetings since 2007.
“It’s not an easy thing,” Thomas Blomberg, dean of Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Justice, told the justice panel’s half-day gathering at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
But, he said, “It can work. And it has worked in a number of jurisdictions.”
Blomberg, the planning meeting’s keynote speaker, was responding to a question by justice commission member, and defense attorney, Nellie King, who said the justice commission has not really weighed in on the issue.
County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who’s on the justice panel’s executive committee but did not attend Monday’s retreat, has been a vocal proponent of a police review board, especially following an April series by The Palm Beach Post and WPTV NewsChannel 5 that found people shot by deputies have disproportionately been black. The county commission shelved the idea in September, saying such a board would have no authority over the Sheriff’s Office.
Blomberg said Monday that “evidence is mixed” on the effectiveness of such panels, depending on where they operate. But he said they work only when police and the people they serve work together rather than against each other.
“This is a good way to begin discourse, and it’s useful not just for community members themselves but officers as well,” Blomberg said. “The police officers and community, they’re part of a whole. It’s not either-or.”