WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - They are pictures raising a lot of questions and left, recently, demoted Deputy Fire Chief Ronald Beesley defending himself to the Contact 5 Investigators.
The following exchange between Contact 5 and Beesley arose over the photos.
Contact 5: "Is this your fire truck?"
Ron Beesley: "That was my fire truck over a year ago, yes."
Contact 5: "Is this your boat?"
Ron Beesley: "That is my boat.
Contact 5: So why are you hauling your boat?
Ron Beesley: "I'm not hauling my boat."
The pictures, emailed to the Contact 5 Investigators from a source, seem to depict the 30-year fire rescue veteran making a rookie mistake.
"I do not haul my boat with my fire truck. What I've done there is I live in a pretty high crime area. We've had a number of things stolen and it's routine for me if my boat is not locked in my backyard, to put a vehicle in front of it to make sure that isn't getting stolen. I positioned the boat on the truck so that no one can steal my boat," explained Beesley during an exclusive interview with Contact 5 Investigator, Katie LaGrone.
Contact 5: "So, it's ok to hook up your personal boat to your county vehicle just as long as you're not moving?"
The photos, which Beesley estimates were captured more than a year ago, are blurry and gritty, but seem to showcase Beesley using his county issued fire truck to haul his personal boat.
"I'm not even sure the boat is hooked up," explained Beesley.
"Do you remember," asked the Contact 5 Investigators.
"No, I do not," answered Beesley.
The pictures were taken outside his brother's house, who lives right next door to Beesley in West Palm Beach.
Contact 5: "Do you do this often?" (referring to parking his county fire truck in a position to secure his personal boat.)
Ron Beesley: "Not often. I've done it."
Contact 5: "So, was it just bad timing that someone was actually able to capture a picture of it?"
Ron Beesley: "It's actually disheartening that someone would take a picture like that and try to spin it and say I'm inappropriately using a county vehicle to haul my boat."
County policy strictly forbids employees from using county issued vehicles for any personal use.
The Contact 5 Investigators showed the photos to County Commissioner Shelley Vana.
"It's worth looking into. I think everybody has to play by the rules."
Beesley believes the photos are part of a character assassination campaign, he claims, he's been victim to for the past two years.
"This is not going down the road with a boat, this is sitting, basically, in my yard. To try and turn that into a character assassination of someone who's put 30 years into service and I've been nothing but dedicated to Palm Beach Fire Rescue and its citizens and our employees."
When asked if he would use his fire truck as a security measure for his personal boat again, Beesley replied:
"I'm going to make sure my trailers don't get stolen. I won't be using my fire department vehicle. It's a little bit sensitive. It's a little bit risky."