Did Boynton Beach police chief Jeffrey Katz cancel plans to attend a Community Safety Roundtable because he didn’t like a headline?
Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said Katz last month intially agreed to participate in the May 30 symposium, which will be attended by at least three other local police chiefs and the chief deputy of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
But on April 29, Katz sent an email to Taylor seeking “a draft agenda so I can garner a better understanding of the nature of the topics to be discussed.
“Of specific concern is that fact that I – and I assume other law enforcement executives – are being invited to a ‘Community Safety Roundtable’. However, the Palm Beach Post is referring to it (as) a ‘Police Shootings Symposium,’’’ he said, referring to a Post story on April 28.
“I am an enthusiastic proponent of proactive community engagement. However, I believe it is important to identify the nature of the endeavor before consenting to participate.’’
Boynton Beach police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater last week said Katz would not attend but she would not offer an explanation. Katz did not respond to an email from The Post.
Taylor said she was disappointed that Katz backed out. She said she can only assume, based on his email to her, that the Post’s use of the word “shooting” in the headline might be his reason for not participating.
Katz “did call initially and he sounded like he was coming. As a matter of fact, he said he was coming. But for whatever reason, he decided not to,’’ Taylor said.
“It’s unfortunate that people would let something like that get in the way of really having a conversation with the community, but we can’t force their hands.’’
Taylor announced she would organize the roundtable last month after reading about disturbing use-of-force patterns by PBSO deputies in an investigation by The Palm Beach Post and WPTV NewsChannel 5.
The daylong symposium is not a forum for citizens to complain about local police, Taylor said.
“We want to set the stage that this is not a confrontational meeting, so people will know we are not going in there to beat up on anybody,’’ said Taylor, a candidate for Congress.