By Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
Last summer, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sent deputies to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. You didn’t see them on TV in the arena. Instead, they were on the streets, part of a large contingent of law enforcement officers monitoring protests and making sure there was order in the city.
That’s what our 112-member Emergency Field Force does.
Whether in Palm Beach County or across Florida, our team of law enforcement and corrections deputies is equipped to handle civil disorders, hazardous responses, search and rescues, and mass arrests. We also assist in security details for dignitaries, including presidents, who often attend big events in the county and other places like Tampa.
These deputies are highly trained and experienced in responding to just about any kind of incident requiring a larger and more sophisticated law enforcement presence.
I’ve seen them save lives and prevent major property damage.
In recent years, our Emergency Field Force assisted in the search for an elderly man in a remote part of the Glades. They also helped contain Occupy Movement demonstrators who slept on the streets of West Palm Beach. They also were instrumental at stopping rioters from trying to take over a generator plant in western Palm Beach County and disrupt traffic on a major road.
In October, our team played a big role in helping with security during the presidential debate at Lynn University, when thousands of people came to the campus and millions more watched on TV and computers. In assisting with big events like the Republican National Convention, the sheriff’s office is reimbursed for the expenses of sending our team.
We live in tough economic times and, unfortunately, some people react aggressively, even violently, toward their fellow neighbors and important county institutions.
You would be amazed at what protesters will do these days to create civil disobedience, but rest assured that our deputies are usually a step ahead of them and able to stop trouble before it happens. Our Emergency Field Force is there to deal swiftly with people seeking to harm others and destroy property.
The team constantly trains in the newest tactics to contain rioters and big crowds. All it takes is one call, and our team gathers, sometimes in a matter of minutes, to deal with all sorts of situations. When needed, they come with tents, food and other supplies to operate in places where we have to stay for a long time, like a hurricane-ravaged zone.
The Emergency Field Force is an essential part of the sheriff’s office and our mission. We should all be grateful to these hardworking and courageous men and women for all they do to keep us safe and secure.