Letter: Town Must Keep Sheriff’s Office

Loxahatchee Groves residents, I would ask that you take a moment to consider what is or may be happening with the police protection that you have had since the time you incorporated in 2006 under the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office has said that they will not be amending their contract to continue with the Groves effective Oct. 1, 2019. I have heard several reasons why this is happening (and even conspiracy theories), but what is important to me is that you, the citizens, are aware of what you might likely lose and how this would impact you.

Your town charter and Florida Statutes require that the town furnish police protection to its residents. The alternative to the PBSO would be for the town to come up with a police department of its own. Our current contract calls for five deputies providing one full-time equivalent (FTE) 24/7 for $622,200. Research seems to indicate that any such police force of our own will be in excess of $1,000,000 or more, since other town budgets recently published show amounts greater than our own. It could be millions more to start up a new department. It is doubtful that the technology or expertise could be duplicated with what we currently have. Additionally, it adds yet one more layer of service to be managed. While I have heard from residents and several council members that they would prefer to do something different, I have not yet been presented with any real costs or ideas on how this could be accomplished. The police force does represent a large part of our current budget, but that is no different from other towns. We seem to want to blame the PBSO because we have an extremely difficult budget for which they take a large portion. That should be the town’s problem, not theirs. As with any service, you pay the price of what it costs. Shouldn’t the number-one priority of the town be the safety and welfare of its residents?

I stated in our last meeting that I am unwilling to leave the town without police protection for even one day. My position has not changed. Some have suggested we just go to emergency protection under Palm Beach County. What if your home, business, etc., gets vandalized and your property stolen or destroyed? It would not cover that. What if your loved one is injured in a serious accident — do you want to wait for help to arrive from another location? What about speeding on the roads where we are trying to control speeding? What about the recent illegal slaughterhouse discovered — I’m not certain that would even have been covered. Our present situation is Sheriff Ric Bradshaw will be leaving the town without protective PBSO services beginning Oct. 1, 2019.

If you believe it is in the town’s best interest to have Sheriff Bradshaw reconsider his decision, I would encourage you to contact the PBSO, contact the town to support them or contact your council members. This is your town. As a resident, if you would like the council to work with the sheriff to reconsider this, I would encourage you to take any of the steps listed above.

Councilwoman Joyce Batcheler, Loxahatchee Groves