WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ric Bradshaw is one step closer to getting another crack as sheriff of Palm Beach County.
Bradshaw, who was first elected in 2004, declared victory over opponent Alex Freeman in Tuesday's Democratic primary and is expected to advance to the November general election.
He was leading Freeman by a substantial margin with 67% of precincts reporting.
"I'm thrilled to death," Bradshaw told WPTV NewsChannel 5. "It's the community responding to the question that we asked them, which was, you know, who do you trust to protect you and your family and who's the most experienced? So they answered that question in a resounding fashion."
Freeman was a major with the Riviera Beach Police Department, but he resigned under pressure in 2018.
Bradshaw's Republican opponent will be Lauro Diaz, a retired captain with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Diaz, born in Cuba but raised in Palm Beach County, said his more than 30 years in law enforcement, specifically at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, will allow him to make changes from within.
"I don't believe that transparency exists, not only just on investigations, but the way he runs his budget, some of the decisions that he makes with his staff, there's just truly no accountability," Diaz said. "That's really the main reason why I decided to run for sheriff."
But Bradshaw said transparency will improve with the implementation of body cameras.
"Transparency is a big thing," Bradshaw said earlier in the day. "That's why we have established the reporting system on uses of force. Ours is a nationally accepted use-of-force policy. The transparency will get better once we get the body cameras."
Diaz said the body cameras should have been in place long ago.
Bradshaw said the victory "gives us a lot of momentum going into November."
"Look, this is never about politics when it comes to the sheriff," Bradshaw said. "It's about making the decisions on what's best for you, your family and this community."
If Bradshaw wins a fifth term in November, he will become the longest-serving sheriff in Palm Beach County.