Disturbed by pattern of PBSO shootings, Commissioner Priscilla Taylor calls for independent review, community symposium

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said she is organizing a symposium of law enforcement officials and community leaders to find ways to reduce the “unnecessary” rate of shootings of unarmed civilians.

IMG_1149Taylor said she was spurred into hosting the symposium after reading about disturbing patterns of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies in a joint investigation between The Palm Beach Post and WPTV NewsChannel 5.

“From reading your article and seeing it on TV, I am going to convene a symposium to bring law enforcement to the table as well as people to the community. It is a serious issue and we don’t want it to fester here in Palm Beach County what is going on in the rest of the county,’’ Taylor said Friday afternoon.

Taylor also called for an independent review board to study some of the findings reported by the news organizations, including:

  • In roughly one of every four shootings, Palm Beach County deputies fired at unarmed suspects. The Department of Justice has found fault with departments who shot at unarmed suspects less frequently.
  • Deputies disproportionately shot at young black men, a third of whom were unarmed.
  • Non-deadly force options, such as Tasers or batons, were seldom used prior to shooting.
  • PBSO rarely found fault with a deputy’s decision to shoot, sometimes basing its decisions on cursory or incomplete investigations.

20120607_met_screengrabTaylor said she was particularly disturbed by a video showing a deputy stopping an unarmed black man who was riding a bike, then shooting him 4 seconds later as the man was running away from the deputy.

“It’s unnecessary and it’s just like what happening across the country,’’ she said. “Really, I think they need an outside citizen’s review board.’’

Taylor said the symposium will be held in May or June at the Palm Beach County Government Center in downtown West Palm Beach. She said the Delray Beach police department already told her it will send a high-ranking representative.

Her staff plans to send out formal invitations on Monday, including one to Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.

“Hopefully the sheriff himself will come,’’ she said. “We have avoided the conversation. I think we need to talk about.’’

Asked what she hopes the symposium will accomplish, Taylor said: “I hope the discussion will bring out some information that can be shared. It’s important for people in those positions to really hear what the community is saying and maybe come up with some idea to try to address that.’’

Read more about this investigation here: mypalmbeachpost.com/policeshootings

 

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