SHERIFF-PALM BEACH CO.
My Q & A with Alex on the campaign trail!
By Tara Pretends Eagle Weber
I had the pleasure of asking Alex Freeman questions as he runs to unseat Sheriff Bradshaw who is being investigated for his handling of the Epstein case. Freeman has a comprehensive platform that would bring the PBSO major changes that address many of the concerns citizens have regarding the police.
Alex Freeman is a retired Major from the Rivera Police Dept., yet he is ready to take charge of PBSO. He is a husband, father and enjoys serving his community. See Freeman's complete bio below from his campaign site: http://alexfreemanforsheriff.com/
Why did you want to serve in the military?
Personally, I have never served in the military. I did, however, have the title of “Major” during my career in law enforcement leadership. Some law enforcement organizations have similar titles and a similar structure. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my title!
What are the 3 most important things you learned as a police officer that you applied to your platform for this campaign?
First and foremost, a positive relationship with the community is a necessity when it comes to effectively serving its residents. I regularly walked the neighborhoods in order to introduce myself to people. This provided them with a familiar first line of contact should they require police assistance. This builds trust between the community and their police force, which is very important because the public play a very important role in terms of preserving the peace. Secondly, an officer must be dedicated and committed to his duties. There are many stresses and pressures at times, so an officer must remain focused on his or her purpose, and never allow anger or frustration to become a distraction from the task at hand. And sincerity is a must. If an officer, who functions as the face of the police force, is the type of individual who cannot be trusted, then he is unable to effectively serve the public.
Please elaborate on your holistic approach to manage the PBSO? What do you hope to accomplish with this approach?
My “holistic” approach to law enforcement means embracing all methods to preserving the public safety, and not simply relying on the traditional “catch and incarcerate them all” model. The PBSO must be willing to work in collaboration with social workers, mental health providers and victim advocates, and must join forces with local community leaders in our common purpose to preserve the peace and public safety. For example, mental health issues play a large role in Palm Beach County’s rate of incarceration. Many incarcerated individuals are in jail, when they should be receiving mental health treatment. Also, the mentally ill have, unfortunately, suffered violence due to deputies’ lack of understanding and proper training. So in addition to regular training, the PBSO absolutely must partner with those most qualified to handle these individuals, in order that the PBSO is properly equipped to approach this segment of our population.
What is community policing? How would you reimplement it?
Community policing involves first rebuilding the relationship between communities and the PBSO, and then working very closely with residents and community leaders in a collaborative effort to preserve the public safety. We will have certain deputies assigned to those neighborhoods, and they will walk patrols, be visible and recognizable faces, and in some cases be the first line of contact.
Where do you stand on: body cameras on officers? And on chokeholds?
Body cameras have been widely used for many years and are advantageous for both the public and the deputies. It is a shame that the current Sheriff has, to date, refused to make provisions and allocations for this important equipment, despite the PBSO budget being as massive as it is. As Sheriff, I will immediately make body cameras mandatory for all deputies. The PBSO will be able to provide for this purchase when its budget is properly administered. Chokeholds are excessive and abusive, and they should have never been permitted by the PBSO. As Sheriff, I will deem chokeholds to be a severe violation of policy for every PBSO deputy. Sufficient police training will make chokeholds or any other aggressive use of force unnecessary.
What are your plans for restoring Community trust?
Communities of color will only feel comfortable when they feel that they are respected, understood, and represented. Under the current sheriff, the overwhelming majority of PBSO executive leadership is white and male. As Palm Beach County’s first African American sheriff, I believe I can serve as a bridge to begin rebuilding the relationship between all communities and the PBSO, through full transparency, active community engagement, the use of alternative methods to preserving public safety, and working in collaboration with local community leaders and organizations.
Can you elaborate on the civilian complaint review board?
I have for years been a major proponent of establishing a civilian complaint review board, which will serve to receive and review every complaint, issue or concern raised by the public. Once sworn in as Sheriff, I will not only be an advocate of such a board, but at long last establish one.
Who are your role models?
Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. These heroes, despite facing many adversities and defeats in their lifetimes, persevered in their commitments to justice and became role models for many people, including myself.